Album Review: Various Artists – New Moon OST (Atlantic Records)

Phoebe Amoroso 29 October 2009

The hype is inescapable. Thousands of teenage girls (and their mums…and possibly me) are awaiting Twilight sequel, which sees heroin Bella abandoned by her vampire boyfriend Edward and falling for a werewolf.

With the melodramatic premise and Twilight soundtrack featuring Paramore and Linkin Park, the New Moon soundtrack is surely prime territory for major teenage angst.

Lead promo song by Death Cab For Cutie opens the album. Just as feared, it’s underwhelming and predictable, with mildly apocalyptic lyrics: “Darling understand/ That everything ends, everything ends.”

It’s easily sung along to and probably makes pleasant background music whilst squealing girls pore over the latest Rob Pattinson pictures on the Internet. All the signs promise a grim ride through uninspiring emo.

But the album quickly dives in a different direction. Yes, it does dark and yes, it does angst. But it’s subtle, atmospheric and, in many places, dreamy.

In fact, on closer inspection of the track listing, the soundtrack looks less like a soundtrack and more like an indie mixtape with some singer songwriters thrown in.

For a film that promises some vampire/werewolf action, relatively few fast tempo songs have made the cut.

Hurricane Bells’ contribution runs over standard rock-and-roll territory, although it gets full marks for mentioning “The monsters buried down deep inside”. It can only be imagined – or hoped – that this will be used for comic effect in the film.

Muse, favourite band of Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, also appear with their funky “I Belong To You” off their latest album, although the French piano part is cut in a move which will probably infuriate diehard fans.

Another upbeat number comes from the recently-formed Band of Skulls. It’s a rhythmic, bass-heavy track that starts fairly promisingly but sadly leads nowhere.

And that’s the main criticism of many of the songs on this compilation; they fail to progress.

Dark and brooding, Thom York’s “Hearing Damage” comprises distorted synths and echoey vocals and uses them to good effect, but it just doesn’t know when to end.

Lykke Li’s contribution also suffers from a similar malady combined with plodding piano, yet with her youthful voice imploring, “Tell me when you hear my heart stop”, it certainly conjures the image of a distressed heroine.

Longing is a prominent theme throughout the album and that’s where its highlights lie.

The Killers’ contribution is both apt and brilliant in its mournfulness and tale of girl in love with a “white demon”. Anya Marina’s “Satellite Heart” is beautiful with seductive vocals as if she’s singing for your ears only. And “Violet Hour” by Sea Wolf is refreshing in its change of pace and fun, poetic lyrics: “Your lips are nettles/ Your tongue is wine.”

Overall, the New Moon soundtrack proves to be a far more sophisticated affair than expected. Yet it’s also a strangely sleepy concoction.

It has its moments of beauty but, as a whole, it feels a little too claustrophobic to be put on repeat – the tracks by Thom Yorke and Grizzly Bear are hardly easy listening.

My advice is give yourself a quick dose, remember it and take some more at a later date. It’s definitely worth a listen. Even if you don’t do vampires.

Phoebe Amoroso