Album Review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2009)

Count yourself lucky if you’ve somehow escaped the Twilight phenomenon.   It seems a story about a human girl falling in love with a 107-year-old vampire would only be appealing to a select group of people; however, Twilight has become one of the biggest things to hit the media in the past couple of years.

Even I have fallen prey to the Twilight frenzy.  I wouldn’t call myself a fan, necessarily; I’ve read all the books, and own the movies and soundtracks…and well, okay, perhaps I am a fan.  A begrudging fan.  Because I will freely admit that the books are poorly written, and the movies are downright corny.   However, the soundtracks are actually quite good.

The Twilight movie soundtrack was a surprisingly fresh mix of rock and pop tunes.  The sequel, New Moon, is a collection of treats from all our favorite indie artists, including Thom Yorke and Grizzly Bear.  Kind of surprising music for a franchise about a bunch of vampires that sparkle in the sun, but I digress- the New Moon soundtrack definitely delivers.

The album begins with Meet Me on the Equinox, an offering from indie rock darlings, Death Cab for Cutie.  Though I am a fan of Death Cab, I have to admit that this song took some time to grow on me.  Despite its inherent catchiness, the lyrics aren’t very profound.  The refrain of, “Everything, everything ends…” is nice enough, but isn’t the kind of great lyricism I’m used to hearing from Ben Gibbard and his band.   The song isn’t very hard hitting musically either; the drumming and guitar is nice enough, but overall, I’ve heard much better from the band.

Next up is Friends, a song by British-rock band, Band of Skulls.  The song is another catchy one, but again, not terribly remarkable.  The basic sound is nice, but become repetitive and boring after a few minutes, and the song is definitely not one you’ll put on repeat.

However, Hearing Damage is a song you’ll want to listen to over and over again.  Anything Thom Yorke touches is gold, at least in my opinion, and this is certainly no exception.  The song has a very electronic sound, and sounds less like Radiohead’s stuff on their last album, and more like some of the tracks on Yorke’s solo album.Though the lyrics in the chorus are a favorite of mine (“You can do no wrong/In my eyes”), this song is mostly about the music; the drum loop in the background is perfect, and the mix of the electric blips and drumming take me to another place every time I listen to this track.  Yorke can do no wrong in my eyes.

We move right along to Possibility, which is definitely a strange little song.  Swedish singer, Lykke Li performs this one, and her voice is so incredibly unique that you’ll probably have to listen twice just to make sure you’re listening to a grown woman singing and not a child.  Her vocals are diminutive and childlike in nature, and might take some time to get used to.  For the most part, the song is a pretty, stripped-down ballad, and plays along well in the most emotional scene in the movie.

A White Demon Love Song was a pleasant surprise on the album.  The song doesn’t exactly sound like what I’ve come to expect of The Killers.  That being said, I absolutely love it.  Lead singer, Brandon Flowers, gives a perfect vocal delivery to this slowed down melody that has a very classic rock feel to it.

On the other hand, Satellite Heart is one of my least favorite songs on the album.  Anya Marina has a nice, soft voice which is somewhat similar to Lykke Li’s; in fact, if I wasn’t looking at the song info, I might think it was another Lykke Li song.  Anyway, it’s not Marina’s vocals that are the problem here- it’s mostly the boring melody which doesn’t make the song stand out on the album.  I recently reviewed Muse’s latest album, The Resistance, which the song I Belong to You comes from.  This album gives us a remix of the track- making the song a bit peppier and taking out the French interlude.  I do enjoy this remix quite a bit, especially placed amongst the other slow-paced song on the album.

My absolute favorite song on the album, however, is Roslyn.   I actually got into Bon Iver’s music a few months ago, before hearing the soundtrack, but due to the fact that he only has one EP, didn’t stay hooked very long.  I’ve never heard of St. Vincent (Annie Clark)’s music before, but if this is any indication of her work, I’m sure I’ll love it.  The song is a beautiful, stirring ballad, with emotive lyrics (“Wings wouldn’t help you/Wings wouldn’t help you down/Down towards the ground/Gravity smiled…”).  There’s a very distinct, organic, indie sound here, but mostly, the track is just so pretty.  Bon Iver and St. Vincent’s vocals are beautiful together, and the acoustic guitar is gorgeous.   This track might not be a favorite to everyone; it’s a very slow song, and probably won’t be noticed among the first few listens of the album, but it’s certainly a hidden gem among the soundtrack.

Done All Wrong is another favorite of mine.  It’s yet another slow-paced song, though this time, the guitar is the star of the show, as it plays along with the dreary lyrics (“Done all wrong/Done me wrong/All the wrong I’ve done I’m sure I’ll live quite quite long/All the wrong I’ve done, will be undone in song…”).  Midway through the song, a beautifully piercing harmonica solo is added in.  I’ve never heard of the San Francisco-based band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, prior to this album, but again, hearing this selection has piqued my interest in their other works.

Finally, an upbeat song arrives with Hurricane Bells’ track, Monsters.  This track reminds me of some of OK Go’s earlier stuff- the cheerful, bouncy guitar riffs remind me of a sunny day on the California coast.  Likewise, The Violet Hour keeps up the cheery pretense on the album.   The music is fun, and breezy- also perfect for summer, surfing and playing on the beach.   Sea Wolf’s lead singer, Alex Church Brown, has a lovely and mesmerizing voice which perfectly highlights the song.

Rhythmic drumming opens Shooting the Moon.  The drums are almost primitive sounding, which goes along well with the Native American werewolves in the film.  If you haven’t seen the movie, I’ve just spoiled a big plot point for you, but let’s just move on, shall we?  Anyway, OK Go brings this absolute delight to the soundtrack, and needless to say, it’s another favorite of mine.  The song is simply great; lead singer, Damian Kulash, has perfectly clear and beautiful vocals as he sings along with the carefree lyrics (“Sorry I let you down/Sorry it wasn’t quite true /Don’t get hung up on it/Just soldier on with it/And good luck with shooting the moon /Shooting the moon… “).  The song is a wonderfully upbeat and stellar addition to the soundtrack.

Before I bought the New Moon soundtrack, I bought Grizzly Bear’s latest effort, Veckatimest.  I think I might’ve fallen asleep about six times while trying to listen to it; it just seemed incredibly slow, boring, and uninspired, and I couldn’t really get into it.  I bought this soundtrack next and fell in love with Grizzly Bear’s offering, Slow Life, and decided to revisit the album based on how much I love this track alone.  The slow, sultry verses fade into an up-tempo chorus which sounds like something from the 70’s; I almost always envision listening to this song on a record player, sitting on a battered, floral brown couch, in a room with faded yellow striped wallpaper.  The nostalgic charm the song brings is perfect, and the track as a whole, is fantastic.  This song is actually barely featured in the movie, but I’m very glad it was included on the soundtrack.

No Sound but the Wind winds down the album a lot and definitely sounds like a “closing credits” type song.  British band, The Editors, offer up this piano-based ballad.  The track is pretty, despite the fact that lead singer, Tom Smith, has a very deep, Tom Waits-esque voice that certainly takes a while to get used to.  The song is decent, but not a standout.

The disc comes to a close with New Moon (The Meadow).  The film’s composer, Alexandre Desplat (whom also composed the score for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), created this beautiful piece that sounds almost like a tie-in to Twilight’s Bella’s Lullaby.   The piece is entirely comprised of piano, and is lush and beautiful, yet still has an undercurrent of sadness and despair, much like the overall theme of the film.  It was a great idea for the album’s producer (Alexandra Patsavas) to include one of the songs from the score onto the soundtrack, as it ends the album quite well.

It seems to me that the movie soundtracks are the best part of the Twilight franchise.  The New Moon soundtrack is clearly no exception; the mix of songs is almost perfect, and the selection of artists is an indie lover’s dream come true.  Hopefully the quality of the music will continue with the next Twilight films in the series; I have to admit that I’m looking forward to see what the Eclipse soundtrack will include.

Rating: 5_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. Death Cab for Cutie – Meet Me on the Equinox
2. Band of Skulls – Friends
3. Thom Yorke- Hearing Damage
4. Lykke Li – Possibility
5. The Killers – A White Demon Love Song
6. Anya Marina – Satellite Heart
7. Muse – I Belong To You (New Moon Remix)
8. Bon Iver and St. Vincent – Roslyn
9. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Done All Wrong
10. Hurricane Bells – Monsters
11. Sea Wolf – The Violet Hour
12. Ok Go- Shooting the Moon
13. Grizzly Bear – Slow Life
14. Editors – No Sound but the Wind
15. Alexandre Desplat – New Moon (The Meadow)


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