'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' soundtrack: Track-by-track reactions
The soundtrack to "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" is released off-cycle today, rather than the typical music industry release day of Tuesday. It's out a month ahead of the film, which hits theaters nationwide on Nov. 20, and whether or not it will have the same retail impact as the music companion to the first film remains to be seen.
But this is much is certain: The "New Moon" soundtrack is definitely much more of a piece than the soundtrack to "Twilight." It's moody, music-to-get-sad-to, definitely, but music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas has put together a collection of songs that captures the drama of young love without drowning in it. Released once again on Patsavas' Chop Shop label, which is associated with Warner Music Group imprint Atlantic, "New Moon" is, on a whole, more inventive than the scattered radio-ready rock that permeated its predecessor.
Track-by-track reactions below.
1. "Meet Me on the Equinox," Death Cab for Cutie. There was reason for skepticism when it was announced that Death Cab would be composing the lead single for "New Moon." Patsavas was keeping things in the family, tapping an Atlantic act she'd worked with before (see "The O.C."). It all seemed a bit predictable, but "Meet Me on the Equinox" packs a few surprises. If the chorus of "everything ends" leaves little to the imagination, the rhythm skips an anxious beat, all while the harmonies and golden guitars lead a path out of the darkness.
2. "Friends," Band of Skulls. Despite the Death Cab opener, it's clear from Track No. 2 that this is not going to be a completely melancholic album. "Friends" launches with some fiery bursts of guitar fuzz, and comes loaded with start-and-stop stomping riffs. "My friends, they are so beautiful," sings Russell Marsden, but he delivers the line with such garage rock swagger that the lyrical cheesiness is completely forgotten. The song swings too, giving "New Moon" a combo rock 'n' roll anthem, make-out song.
3. "Hearing Damage," Thom Yorke. When the Radiohead frontman unveiled a handful of new songs in Los Angeles, they came off as electro-dance rock 'n' roll for the art-house set. Yorke's "New Moon" tune is a little warmer than those glitchy, yet funky, rock 'n' roll cuts. The stereo buzz that permeates much of the song creates a rather warm sound, and Yorke's vocals threaten to disintegrate into a hum, which is exactly what they do in the final moments. "They say you're getting better, but you don't feel any better," Yorke sings, not exactly the reassuring lover, but not exactly distant, either. Love at its most tension-filled.
4. "Possibility," Lykke Li. Tension gives way to heartache here, and Sweden's Lykke Li could melt the coldest of hearts with this sparse tearjerker. A slight scratch in her vocals cuts through the song's intimately innocent feel. "Tell me when you hear my heart stop," she sings, while a backing choir inflects the sparse piano with gospel undertones -- a brief, largely a cappella prayer.
5. "A White Demon Love Song," the Killers. Bringing out a dash of the Killers' experimental tendencies, "A White Demon Love Song" builds from a pleasant pop nugget into a mini synth-heavy orchestral number, all in 3½ minutes. Brandon Flowers' vocals are clear and calm, and the song has more of a mainstream sheen than any of the other tracks on the album, at least up until this point. That's not a bad thing, as it arrives as a sort of sigh of relief. It's colorful, but the constant repeat of the words "white demon" gives it a dose of ridiculousness, and less of a chance of survival outside the "Twilight" context.
6. "Satellite Heart," Anya Marina. From an in-house, largely heretofore unknown Chop Shop artist, Marina's "Satellite Heart" sounds an awful lot like a downbeat outtake from Metric's recent "Fantasies," with its mix of glammy electronics and acoustic guitar strumming.The strings sound a bit synthetic, and like selections from Yorke and Lykke Li, it's difficult to tell where the real instrumentation starts and ends. But Marina's breathy, icy vocals slice a seductive trail through the background effects.
7. "I Belong to You," Muse. A remix of a track from the band's recent album "The Resistance"; Muse was one of the breakouts from the first "Twilight" soundtrack. "I Belong to You" is jaunty, dancey and loaded with piano fills. In all, it isn't too different from the album version and feels more like an alternate studio take than a full-on remix. Moving on.
8."Roslyn," Bon Iver & St. Vincent. An odd, lovely little track. This is definitely more of a Bon Iver song than a St. Vincent one, with its chamber-like acoustic guitars and harmonizing vocals. It's soft, pretty and a bit of daydream. St Vincent (real name: Annie Clark) is a wicked guitarist and sharp vocalist in her own right, but this is a mood setter, not a show stopper. At nearly five minutes, "Roslyn" builds hypnotically, with a brief flash of what sounds like a banjo. The vocals rise and fall into the mix, as if they're haunting the melody rather than accompanying it.
9. "Done All Wrong," Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The vintage psychedelic rockers get bluesy here. "Done All Wrong" is a dark, late-night number, looking back and justifying a life of sin and brooding. A harmonica makes a brief appearance, but this is blues for a dive bar and a smoke, not the back porch.
10. "Monsters," Hurricane Bells. Another heretofore unknown act, Hurricane Bells is the moniker of Steve Schiltz, who used to front dreamy guitar rockers Longwave. "Monsters" is a more smoothed-out song than Band of Skulls' "Friends," but it comes with similarly fuzz-drenched guitars. It arrives to sort of transition "New Moon" to its lighter, final songs. "The monsters are buried down inside," Schlitz sings about his inner demons, but he does so with a cheeriness that celebrates a split personality.
11."The Violet Hour," Sea Wolf. The Los Angeles indie-rock scene gets represented courtesy of Sea Wolf. The song starts out brighter than anything else on the soundtrack and bounces along with a zestfulness that feels a bit out of place. Strings and guitar notes get all twisted and messy in the song's final moments, but by that point it feels like window dressing on a rather light ditty.
12. "Shooting the Moon," OK Go. The emotional core of the album seems to have passed, as the moodier moments are gradually disappearing. But pop workers OK Go still manage to have fun with weirdness. A booming rhythm plays give and take with what might or might not be a tambourine, and things move sweetly along until around the one-minute mark, when odd electronic noises start drizzling over the verses. Eventually, it builds into a rock 'n' roll blowout, and it feels like an album closer.
13. "Slow Life," Grizzly Bear. Sadness returns. Indie-rock favorites Grizzly Bear were a surprising choice for the "New Moon" soundtrack, perhaps, but the act's cool and precise harmonic arrangements match Edward Cullen's undead gaze. After a 1½-minute nap-worthy warm-up, the song gives way to a kaleidoscope burst of carnival-like noises, but Grizzly Bear doesn't ride with it, and things get restrained too quickly.
14. "No Sound but the Wind," the Editors. A piano-driven send-off for the album, at least the rock 'n' roll portion of it (a snippet of Alexandre Desplat's score is the final track). The Editors forgo their Joy Division-inspired rock, but singer Tom Smith is still a gloom orator here. There's a sort of density to his vocals, as if he's singing in an empty church. "No Sound but the Wind" winds down the soundtrack with an anthem fit for a funeral.
-- Todd Martens
Photos, from top left: Annie Clark: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times; Thom Yorke: Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times; Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times; credit: Summit Entertainment / Associated Press