(500) Days Of Summer
REVIEW BY: Sarah Curristan
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/21/2009
It’s an admirable thing to attempt to build a compilation on the shaky foundations of love and relationships. Firstly, it’s deeply personal, in this case fictionally so, and secondly, love-themed compilations are about as highly regarded as Christmas number ones in as much that even genuinely approaching the topic is bound to raise a few cynically-arched brows. The soundtrack for (500) Days Of Summer manages to toe the first line and entirely sidestep the second. As the disclaimer on the album cover reads, “These are not love songs; they’re songs about love.”
The premise of the film is fairly straightforward and charts the progression of the relationship between romantic protagonist Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt – the little one with the curtain hair from 3rd Rock From The Sun) and the dedicatedly single Summer Finn (indie girl of the hour Zooey Deschanel). As to be expected, things get messy, depressing records are played, and minute details are masochistically overanalyzed. The title brackets the relationship into 500 days so the indication that things come to a head between Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel is fairly fluorescent from the outset.
As to be expected, seeing the film helps to enhance the play of the soundtrack, pulling together some of the more unlikely song choices on this disc (like Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True” amidst the blitz of indie and lady-indie); but it’s not entirely necessary to enjoy the soundtrack, as the intro monologue taken from the film adequately sets the tone for the album. The albums opens with Regina Spektor’s “Us,” a great introduction backed by impatient violin and the flutter of piano that’s altogether as fearful, timid, triumphant, and brave as if no one had ever fallen in love before. From here, the female vocalists are out in spades, with another track by Regina Spektor as well as contributions from She & Him, Carla Bruni, Meaghan Smith, and Feist.
The inclusion of classics like “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” (The Smiths) and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bookends” is a nice touch, making the album somewhat familiar and accessible from the first play. The highlights of the soundtrack, however, are made up of tracks that came to light through the film itself. The Temper Trap’s haunting “Sweet Disposition” is probably the most worthy to note, garnering attention through its use within the film and external marketing. “Quelqu’un M’a Dit,” taken from Carla Bruni’s debut album, is another great find on the album. It’s delicate and understated and doesn’t necessarily need to be understood to take you by surprise. Since the film’s release, much attention has also been given to “There Goes The Fear” by the Doves, both a song and band that I can’t really understand. The song is overly long and becomes dulled with each play, the vocals are fairly flat and undistinguishable, which leaves the only charm tentatively resting on the riff.
Meaghan Smith’s saccharine cover of “Here Comes Your Man” tries to capture the subtle ease of the original, and while the verses are passable, the bridge and chorus are so lacking in energy the whole track comes off sounding somewhat lethargic. Closing off the album is Zooey Deschanel’s band She & Him with a cover of “Please Please Please, Let Me Get What I Want.” You feel a little cheated getting two versions of this song within one tracklist, and as a closer, I don’t think it works as well as other songs on the album could have if given the same role. That said, it’s an interesting cover. Deschanel’s vocals sound foreign and hypnotizing, but it just seems to lack that mirthless desperation that is the bones of the original.
Unfortunately, Zooey Deschanel’ version of “Sugar Town” and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s raw cover of “Here Comes Your Man” don’t make it onto the album, which is a fairly disappointing omission, but other than that, the (500) Days Of Summer soundtrack can’t really be faulted. The atmosphere is set and clear from the beginning, allowing you know what you’re sinking into, but it still offers a few surprises along the way.
|I agree with you: "Sweet Disposition" and "Quelqu'un m'a dit" are two hidden treasures. But don't forget the vibrant "She's Got You High," a track that definitely deserves mention.|