February 20, 2008

CD Review: Juno - Music from the Motion Picture

Back in December, Juno arrived on the big screen with a tremendous amount of buzz. It, quite frankly, had a lot to live up to. The buzz was huge, and it could have gone either way once it arrived. On one hand people could flock to its wonderful characters and touching story or they could flee to National Treasure: Book of Secrets in an attempt to hide from the high quirk factor that some people seem to despise. Fox Searchlight Pictures made the right decision by giving it great television promotion as well as supporting it through a slow national roll out. In doing so it has garnered the moniker of "the little film that could," much like what they did with Little Miss Sunshine in 2005. In doing so, Juno has reached a wide audience and been nurtured to a box office gross that has passed $100 million (a first for the distributor). However, with all the talk of how good the screenplay and the performances are, one cannot forget the quality of the soundtrack. The album is definitely worth adding to your personal collection.

The music truly fits the quirkiness of Juno to a glove. That's right, if you are sensitive to quirk I would recommend thinking twice before attempting to work your way through the oft-times weird nineteen track collection. You know, in most other circumstances the songs here would have me running for the hills screaming for mercy. Yet, here I am writing about how much I enjoy it. Strange, huh?

Listening to these songs away from the big screen has made me think a little bit about how the use of music within a film can affect your enjoyment away from said film. Film has a way of infecting your mind and biasing it towards liking things that you would not normally be attracted to.

If you know anything about me, you will know that in addition to my love of the movie, I am a lover of metal and heavy music in general. Now, there is absolutely nothing on the Juno soundtrack that would qualify as heavy. Knowing that fact the next logical question would revolve around why ,or even how, a metal guy would find room in his heart to squeeze in the predominantly folky stylings found here?

The answer is pretty easy. The movie won me over, pure and simple. The movie is brilliant in the way it captures a very real setting in such a humorous manner. The characters feel real even when delivering absurd lines that are meant to be existential. Hand in hand with the sense of reality is a group of songs that perfectly fit the characters. This music sounds just like what you would expect the characters to listen to.

In this collection artists young and old rub elbows while practically screaming "Look! I'm Indie!", which is a weird thing to say considering that everything about these songs is understated and almost simple sounding. Among the artists you will find are Mott the Hoople, The Kinks, Buddy Holly, and Sonic Youth alongside the likes of Belle & Sebastian, Cat Power, The Moldy Peaches, and a healthy dose of solo songs from co-founder of The Moldy Peaches, Kimya Dawson.

Is it perfect? No, but it is pretty close. There are a few interlude-type tracks such as "My Rollercoaster" by Dawson and "Up the Spout" by Mateo Messina. Then there is the oddity called "Vampire" by Antsy Pants, I am not even sure what to think of that one. However, on the other side of the coin you get such gems as "All the Young Dudes" by Mott the Hoople and "A Well Respected Man" by The Kinks. Right alongside them are several new tracks such as "All I Want is You" by Barry Louis Polisar and "Loose Lips" by Kimya Dawson.

The album comes to a close with the sweet duet from the film by Ellen Page and Michael Cera as they perform The Moldy Peaches' song "Anyone Else But You." I cannot think of a finer way to bring the album to a close.

Highly Recommended.


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