American Pie 2
Universal Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/30/2001
The movie American Pie did more for society than just cause people to cast a suspicious eye on desserts - though Lord knows I've not been able to eat at Bakers Square since then. It introduced people to a nice selection of groups who were looking to get their names known to a wider populace while reflecting the tastes of today's young people. That's why a group like Tonic could fit so well next to Blink 182.
American Pie 2 puts more of an emphasis on the nouveau-punk that has grown in popularity over the last few years, thanks to groups like Blink 182 (who make a return appearance on this disc) and Green Day. But while the music on this disc is enjoyable, it often feels like there's not enough of a variety - and when something different is presented, it is in such contrast that it clashes noticably.
In truth, there's not a bad performance on this soundtrack; each group has its own unique charms, even if many of them sound exactly the same. Case in point: Green Day's offering "Scumbag" is so short that it's almost a perfect segue between that song and "Bring You Down" from Left Front Tire - so much so that I almost didn't notice it on first listen.
What's nice about the alt-punk groups featured is that there's a solid balance between the established acts, the semi-famous (Alien Ant Farm's "Good (For A Woman)", Fenix*Tx's "Phoebe Cates") and groups we'll undoubtedly be hearing much more from very soon (Left Front Tire, Jettingham's "Cheating," The Exit's "Susan"). American Pie 2 is a veritable smorgasbord of alt-punk, and you won't mind going back for seconds.
There are two successful forays into something a little more pop-oriented - and, at the risk of sounding sarcastic, they both happen to be from the Universal Records stable. 3 Doors Down plays the role that Tonic did on the first soundtrack, providing the hit single with their remix of "Be Like That" off The Better Life. It's a wonderful job they've done, giving this song a whole new life. Oleander's been getting some attention with their new disc Unwind (which I still have in the "to be reviewed" pile), and "Halo" is the kind of track that will make people want to check out the full-length platter.
But not all of the quieter moments work as well. Angela Ammons's "Always Getting Over You" is a pretty enough song, but it just doesn't seem to serve a purpose sandwiched between Alien Ant Farm and Jettingham. Had this track followed, say, 3 Doors Down, it would have worked better for the listener. It's all a matter of placement, kids. Lucia's "I Will" at least has Oleander following it up to make that aspect work - but there's one moment in the chorus where the vocals hit a chord that doesn't resolve well that sounds a bit unnatural. Granted, I'm probably one of the few who would notice this - but to my ears, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
One other side note: I thought American Pie 2 was rated "PG-13"... yet this CD's inserts tout it as being rated "R". Hmm... does this mean this disc is going to be worth something down the line? Just wondering...
If you like the alt-punk scene, American Pie 2 is going to be a wonderful experience. Like the first disc, the soundtrack's producers have tapped the wells of today's music and have come back with a pretty satisfying selection.