Album Review: Garden State (Soundtrack) (2004)

Garden State was a movie that grew on me. The first time I watched it, I remember shrugging and thinking, “Yeah, so what?” The media, and even my friends, had hyped it up to be this great, life-changing film, but I didn’t really see what was so great about it (okay, besides Zach Braff (who also acts as the soundtrack’s executive producer). I just love him!).

Finally, after a few more viewings of the film, it slowly became one of my favorite movies. The same could be said about the Garden State Original Soundtrack. Filled with thirteen tracks of indie rock (taken from scenes in the movie), the album tends to drag on at times, but after a few listens, I was hooked.

The album starts off with Don’t Panic by Coldplay. This song was originally taken from the band’s debut CD, Parachutes, though I hadn’t heard it until watching Garden State. The song is a great opener to the album; comprised of a catchy beat and chorus of “We live in a beautiful world” its simplicity works well.

Ian, the resident indie-junkie in my group of friends, had kept bugging me to listen to The Shins. I hadn’t heard any of their music until buying this soundtrack, where two of their songs are included. The first is Caring Is Creepy, which happens to be a great song; an upbeat vibe is paired with clever lyrics (“I think I’ll go home and mull this over/Before I cram it down my throat/At long last it’s crashed, this colossal mass/Has broken up into bits in my moat”). New Slang is another treat. This time the tune is more subdued, but the lyrics are just as good (“I’m looking in on the good life I might be doomed never to find/Without a trust or flaming fields am I too dumb to refine?”) and lead singer James Mercer sounds great on both tracks.

One of my favorite songs on the soundtrack belongs to Zero 7 and their track In The Waiting Line. You’ll probably remember this track being played in the background during the party that Andrew (Zach’s character) goes to. The song is very soft, and female vocalist, Sophie Baker’s voice is calm and alluring and draws the listener right in (and back again for repeated listening).

Sometime last year I fell in love with a song called Such Great Heights by the band The Postal Service. However, I had no idea that the song was later covered by Iron & Wine. His version is included on the soundtrack, and despite how much I love The Postal Service’s original version (it’s even a ringer on my cell phone), I must say I like the Iron & Wine version even better. The track is stripped of production, and composed of just light guitar and vocals, which makes for such a relaxing song.

Frou Frou, a British electonica group, provides Let Go, another one of the album’s stand out tracks. Musically, the song starts off very quiet, and builds as it goes along. Imogen Heap sounds perfect as she sings about the “beauty in the breakdown”.

I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You from Colin Hay is another nice track, although the first few times I listened to the CD, the song kind of passed by without me noticing it. Even Simon & Garfunkel are included on the album with their classic song, The Only Living Boy In New York. Remy Zero, one of the few artists I had heard of prior to buying the soundtrack, offers their song, Fair. It’s a nice, slow, hushed track, which picks up by the chorus.

The album ends with Winding Road by Bonnie Summerville. If I didn’t remember this song being in the movie, I wouldn’t have believed it should have been included in the soundtrack. Where most of the album is slow, indie rock, this song is poppy and radio friendly, which is a bit strange. Still, it’s a nice track, all the same.

Zach Braff did a terrific job compiling songs for the Garden State soundtrack. The album is a mix of wonderful contemplative songs, and has opened me up to music I wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to listen to.

Rating: 200px-4_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. Don’t Panic – Coldplay
2. Caring Is Creepy – The Shins
3. In The Waiting Line – Zero 7
4. New Slang – The Shins
5. I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You – Colin Hay
6. Blue Eyes – Cary Brothers
7. Fair – Remy Zero
8. One Of These Things First – Nick Drake
9. Lebanese Blonde – Thievery Corporation
10. The Only Living Boy In New York – Simon & Garfunkel
11. Such Great Heights – Iron & Wine
12. Let Go – Frou Frou
13. Winding Road – Bonnie Somerville

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYwCmcB0XMw]
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