Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Best Soundtrack of This Century (So Far)

The movie was absolute drivel, but the soundtrack for Cameron Crowe's woefully misfiring-on-all-cylinders "Vanilla Sky" stands out by virtue of its intrepidly eclectic nature and remarkable consistency. Featuring a register of major-league leftfield acts, "Vanilla Sky" the soundtrack is a resonant, evocative collection of songs that convey the script's fundamental message a million times better than Crowe's slipshod directing (not to mention the abysmal performances by almost all concerned - except for a stupendously stunning cameo by the perpetually excellent and persistently divine Alicia Witt).

Starting with REM's strident "All the Right Friends", a lost gem from the "Document" era, the proceedings go on with the spooky, downtempo electronic-ambient workout "Everything in Its Right Place", a good example of Radiohead's new-millennium electronica direction. Paul McCartney's title-track contribution is appropriately grey-hued and pensive (almost like a modern-day update of "Blackbird"), while Peter Gabriel's evergreen emancipation anthem "Solsbury Hill" has never sounded more resounding than on here.

Fortunately, the rest of the album ably match up to the virtuosity of the opening numbers. Icelandic avant-rockers Sigur Ros's glacially paced "Svefn-G-Englar" ably conveys an apropos sense of mental and emotional dislocation, while Todd Rundgren's ironic "Can We Still Be Friends" is a welcome melodic distraction, arguably the brightest moment on the album. The inclusion of Red House Painters' superbly morose "Have You Forgotten" is an unexpected nice touch, while the late Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye" is a superior piece of folk-rock. Things end on a fantastic note with the cinematic "Where Do I Begin", a kaleidoscopic Chemical Brothers epic featuring singer-songwriter Beth Orton on archetypal wispy, fuzzed-out vocals.

Verdict: An all-round inspired effort, which is more than what one can say about its screen counterpart.


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