The Last Kiss

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

, 2006

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/03/2006

It’s hard to listen to this album and not compare it to the movie Garden State, which, when it was released, became an indie darling and catapaulted artists like The Shins and Frou Frou into the mainstream, courtesy of mastermind actor/director Zach Braff. But inevitably, most of the comparisons drawn are going to be right, if only for the reason that both soundtracks and their meticulously chosen blend of songs read a lot like your favorite sentimental mix tape.

While the album has already taken flak for including some of the same artists as Garden State (Coldplay, Remy Zero, Imogen Heap of Frou Frou, Cary Brothers), it’s understandable that Braff would place some of his standbys from a few years ago alongside newer favorites like Joshua Radin, Rachel Yamagata and Brit imports Snow Patrol, who open both film and album with the clear harmonies and simple, heartfelt lyrics of “Chocolate.” my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As for Joshua Radin, whose overly melancholy major label debut We Were Here bordered on monotony for most of its duration, his two tracks for The Last Kiss, “Star Mile” and “Paperweight,” are much more listenable, gorgeously subtle even, when not backed by another half hour of his signature wispy, wistful acoustic sound.

Most of the disc continues in that downbeat, acoustic vibe, so it’s a welcome diversion to hear something with the charged alt-rock rhythm of newly-reunited Remy Zero’s “Prophecy,” which, along with Cary Brothers’ “Ride” solidify the album as more than just Garden State 2.0. The artists may be the same, but the material is decidedly more mature, referencing a darker slice of life than the wide-eyed optimism of “Fair” and “Blue Eyes,” respectively.

But the real standout of the album ends up being, surprisingly enough, Coldplay with “Warning Sign,” one of the token songs from 2002’s A Rush of Blood to the Head that wasn’t played to death like the rest of its material. Even though I’m notorious for spoiling movie plots, this time I’m just going to say that the song plays over one of the film’s most evocative moments, slowly building to its yearning, lovelorn chorus with lush strings and melodies.

This is one of those soundtracks that, even if you don’t care about the movie, can stand up on its own right, providing just enough mellowness to balance out its universal themes of love, relationships and reaching maturity. The Last Kiss, film and soundtrack both, prove that big budgets, convoluted plotlines and in-your-face stunts are only secondary to coming away with an experience that can heighten your understanding of the world around you.

Rating: B+

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