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Soundtrack Review: (500) Days of Summer

Note from Buzz: My buddy Bella is going to contribute some of her thoughtful musings about music here from time to time. Her inaugural post is an album review of the (500) Days of Summer soundtrack. Take it away, Bella!

A movie soundtrack has more or less the same goal as a great mix tape: it needs to put a scene in the listener's mind, produce an emotional response, and introduce an amazing new song or two. Considering how integral music is to the plot of (500) Days of Summer, a lot is riding on the film's soundtrack. The film isn't shy about revealing its hip-kid leanings — after all, our lovebirds initially bond over their love of the Smiths, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt sports Clash and Joy Division tees — but the soundtrack is an ambrosia salad of sweet but all-over-the-place tunes. For more of my take on it all, read more.

These songs are an easy fit for romantic late nights, and about half of the CD will make you wish you were in love. Carla Bruni (yes, the first lady of France) spreads her velvet voice over the dreamy acoustic guitar-and-violin "Quelqu'un M'a Dit," and The Temper Trap's shimmering "Sweet Disposition" has a U2-meets-Bloc Party feel that could make this band. Regina Spektor's two tracks have her crooning as lovely as ever, and the Black Lips contribute a fun, jangly countrified treat with "Bad Kids."

And yet. For all of the good music on this soundtrack — and don't get me wrong, it's there — we've heard much of it before. Feist's "Mushaboom" is five years old now, and as much as I love Moz and Marr, I wish there were something fresher than two Smiths songs. Hall and Oates? Play 'em off, Keyboard Cat. (No, really. Please do.) Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward (She & Him) succeed with a wistful cover of "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want," but Meaghan Smith's cloyingly precious version of the Pixies' "Here Comes Your Man" is a miss.

For casual listeners, this soundtrack should bring some good times. But for anyone who's already into indie-ish music — which is pretty much this movie's target demographic — this "mix tape" might seem lacking in variety and freshness.

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