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Album review: 'Young Adult: Music From the Motion Picture'

December 26, 2011 |  4:54 pm

Young-adult-soundtrack

It's hardly necessary in the Age of Spotify for a Hollywood movie soundtrack to excavate a once-beloved song from the pop-culture scrap heap. But if these albums' curators have been relieved of their hunting-and-gathering responsibilities, they retain the power to contextualize, and that's what Jason Reitman exploits on the soundtrack to his new film, "Young Adult."

The movie, with Charlize Theron as a novelist who returns to her hometown to woo her high-school sweetheart, presents a deadpan riff on that familiar conceit, a mumbly self-awareness Reitman underscores with his use of vintage tunes by such low-effect alt-rock acts as Teenage Fanclub ("The Concept"), the Lemonheads ("It's a Shame About Ray") and Dinosaur Jr. ("Feel the Pain"). Listening to these songs one after the other -- as they might have been presented on a handmade mixtape from the mid-1990s -- you think about the shift in tone that's taken place in pop since then, from that era's once-ubiquitous slacker vibe to today's fixation on harder-better-faster-stronger.

"Young Adult" seems to side with that earlier mind-set, but perhaps not: The album closes with a handful of elevator-music renditions of tunes such as Faith No More's "Epic" and Pearl Jam's "Even Flow" -- an extended suite that's easy to hear as a kind of requiem for irony.

Various Artists
"Young Adult: Music From the Motion Picture"
(Rhino)
Two and a half stars (Out of four)

ALSO:

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Willie Nelson sings 'Hell and Back Again' documentary theme song

Kenny Loggins: Blake Shelton's 'Footloose' sounds overly produced

-- Mikael Wood

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