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Scott Pilgrim vs The Soundtrack

Written by Kieran on Wednesday, August 11 2010 and posted in Features

King Impulse returns to the front page with a review of Scott Pilgrim vs The World's Original Soundtrack.


Behind Gillen/McKelvie's Phonogram, Scott Pilgrm is perhaps the most musical comic out there (Well, there are those ones inspired by musicians, like the Tori Amos one, but let's say serialised fiction), a good percentage of characters are in bands, music is a regular topic of conversation, every book has it's own playlsit published in the back, and there's even a song you can play along to in Volume 1. So with the film coming out, there had to be a killer soundtrack with only the hippest, coolest bands allowed, right? Right, that's what we've got with a great collection mixing Broken Social Scene, Blood Red Shoes and... T.Rex?

sex_bob-omb.gifSex Bob-Omb - We Are Sex Bob-Omb

As an actual song, honestly, this pretty bad, but it's got charm and you know what it's supposed to be, so you don't really mind, it's kind of reveling in its own awfulness, which is kind of fun.

Plumtree - Scott Pilgrim

The track that inspired it all, I've been a fan of Plumtree since I started reading Scott Pilgrim, and it's great to finally own a copy of the original single release of the song as well as the finished album version I've had for so long. The single version is rawer and more in tone with the book in a way, they sound like a band that would be on the same bill as Sex Bob-Omb, Crash and the Boys et al and the song fits much better on the soundtrack than the more polished album version would.

Frank Black - 'I Heard Ramona Sing'

This track takes things in a slightly different direction with, one which is a lot more... professional than the first two tracks. I've never heard any of his solo stuff but I'm a massive Pixies fan, and this song sounds like a continuation of where The Pixies were in the early nineties. It's an incredibly well put together song, which is the best way to describe it really. Every instrument, every flourish, every lyric just works perfectly, I'm definitely going to have to check out more of Frank Black's solo material after hearing this.

Beachwood Sparks - By Your Side

This is a lot slower than anything you'd expect to find on a Scott Pilgrim, but it's perfect for the movie. It's all about a girl who has no confidence in herself and believes her man will let her down, and the fella reassuring her that he's not going anywhere. It's a perfect song for the Scott/Ramona relationship, Scott's a guy willing to fight seven dudes (well, six and a chick... a tough chick) for Ramona's love, he's clearly someone who will do anything for the love of his life. The song itself is really nice, a cover of a Sade song, there are subtle touches of harmonica in places, and the whole song has a kind of restrained beauty to it. Towards the end it even reminds me of Spiritualised, which is high praise from me.

The Black Lips - O Katrina!

The Black Lips were the first band that were going to be approached to play Sex Bob-Omb before Beck was asked instead, and this song fits in as one of those songs you could hear on a night that Sex Bob-Omb were playing. It's a great throwback song, when I'm not a massive fan of that style, it offers very little in actual substance but it's fun and has a lot of energy.

crash_and_the_boys.gifCrash and the Boys - I'm So Sad, So Very, Very, Sad

Take away the introduction to this song at the start, and the introduction to the next song at the end, and this song runs at about four seconds. There's not much to say about it, but it's cool that they kept this little joke in from the book.

Crash and the Boys - We Hate You Please Die

This might be my favourite song on the album, written and performed by Broken Social Scene, It's riotous, infectious and is good enough to justify Sex Bob-Omb's worry of following Crash and the Boys onstage. I'd love to hear the guys from BSS do more short punky numbers like this, I'm sure it's a load of fun for them.

Sex Bob-Omb - Garbage Truck

Even if the first line of this song wasn't 'I take you for a ride' this would still make me think of Iggy Pop, it's got the same plodding rhythm (in a good way) and strained vocals of 'The Passenger' and is probably Sex Bob-Omb's best track. In an interview, Beck said he was very concious that the band had to straddle a line where you can't quite tell if they're brilliant or awful. This song straddles that line perfectly. The lyrics are simple and cliche, but it's sincere and catchy.

T.Rex - Teenage Dream

I like to think this is the song that goes through Scott's head when he sees Ramona. I can't really comment too much as I'm not well versed on T.Rex, but it's kind of funny that on an album full of 'hipster fodder' we have this woozy croon-a-long slap in the middle.

The Bluetones - Sleazy Bed Track

I really like this song, it's so achingly beautiful. The vocals are delivered so well, so much thought put into every word past the singers lips. I've never really given The Bluetones much credit before, always thought they had a rubbish name so I never bothered with them. I love the lyric 'Climb up here with me and let's forget about sleep' especially.

Blood Red Shoes - It's Getting Boring By The Sea

One of my favourite proper rock bands from the past few years, I remember years and years ago I heard this song once on the TV, on a music channel showcasing 'Spanking New Music' and I spent ages searching for it, trying to remember the band name or the track title. I eventually got it, got the album and fell in love with them. I've seen them live loads and it's always a fantastic show. I can't rate this band enough, and this is one of my favourite songs by them.

the_clash_at_demonhead.gifMetric - Black Sheep

I'm a bit miffed that this is credited to Metric. Like, I know it's a Metric song, but Beck and BSS both credit their tracks to the fictional bands, and dammit, I really want a Clash at Demonhead song in my iTunes, I might just rename it... Well, I'm too much of a perfectionist over these things, but I do really wish it said it was by 'Clash...' the song itself is exactly how I imagine that band to sound like. That mix of synths and guitar building up to the female vocals backed by little else, it's so Envy Adams. It's got that faux-epicness I imagine Clash at Demonhead to have, Envy always had a high opinion of herself after all.

Sex Bob-Omb - Threshold

The most Beck sounding song from Sex Bob-Omb on the album, like the rest of their tracks, it sounds like a low-level garage band in all the best ways. Beck's done such a great job on nailing the authenticity of Sex Bob-Omb.

Broken Social Scene - Anthems For A Seventeen-Year Old Girl

or, as it should be renamed for this album, 'Anthem for Knives Chau' the particular seventeen year old we have in this movie. It's a really nice, laid-back track with some pretty hushed-vocals, and times when it knows to shut up and let the music talk. The repetition on the second half of the song works really well, building and building to a nice slow ending.

The Rolling Stones - Under My Thumb

As director Edgar Wright has said, this is the song for Gordon Gideon Graves, the overall villain of the piece, although I see it slightly differently. Rather than this being Gideon's song, it's what he wants his song to be. He wants Ramona to be the girl under his thumb, he wants his big victory moment where he triumphs over Scott Pilgrim and can sing this song, rather than this being a song that can be used to describe him.

Beck - Ramona

There are two versions of this on the album, a minute long acoustic version and a longer electric, strng-laden version. It's based on a song Scott makes up on the bus to kind of impress/joke with Ramona in the book, but here it seems sweeter than that. It's more of a lament, pining over a lost Ramona, rather than the celebratory 'Look at this girl I have who's so awesome' song the book makes it out to be.

Sex Bob-Omb - Summertime

Another bit of scuzzy fun from Sex Bob-Omb, it'd be fun if they released the Sex Bob-Omb tracks as an EP, like something they'd sell from the back of a car or something. There are enough tracks for it and it'd be a cool piece of movie merch to own. This song itself is full of abstract imagery and is more Stones-ey than the other tracks, but it still works. It's fun to look at the other tracks on the soundtrack and see what inspired the original music.

Brian Lebarton - Threshold (8 Bit)

I don't like Chiptune music, I guess this is a fun bonus track, but I don't understand people who listen to Chiptune seriously. Maybe I'm just getting old or something and this is my equivalent of "It's all just beeps and whistles" like my dad says about some of my music, but in this case, seriously, it's all just beeps an whistles! Not a way to end the album really.

That's it, it's a solid soundtrack, and I don't really like compilations that much. The tracks are well chosen, and the original music is just perfect for the bands they represent. If you're a fan of the book, if you're a fan of the film, if you're a fan of music, you should check this out.

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