Original Soundtrack – Wicker Park – Review

Original Soundtrack Wicker Park
Lakeshore Records, 2004

1. Stereophonics “Maybe Tomorrow”
2. Lifehouse “Everybody Is Somebody”
3. Death Cab For Cutie “A Movie Script Ending”
4. Snow Patrol “How To Be Dead”
5. Broken Social Scene “Lover’s Spit”
6. The Stills “Retour A Vega”
7. Mazzy Star “Flowers In December”
8. The Legends “When The Day Is Done”
9. The Shins “When I Goosestep”
10. Jaime Wyatt “Light Switch”
11. Mates of State “These Days”
12. +/- “All I Do”
13. Mùm “We Have A Map Of The Piano”
14. Postal Service “Against All Odds”
15. Aqualung “Strange And Beautiful”
16. Mogwai “I Know You Are But What Am I?”
17. Johnette Napolitano & Danny Lohner “The Scientist”

For those who actually arrive at theaters ahead of time to intentionally catch previews, you may have stumbled across one for the Josh Hartnett vehicle Wicker Park. If you’re in a town the size of mine, the film never quite made it to town; if you’re part of civilization, you more than likely skipped it altogether. Either way, the reviews weren’t so hot and people didn’t seem to care; it came and it went.

Quite honestly, none of that information has anything to do with the film’s soundtrack. In fact, only eight of the seventeen tracks featured on the album were actually in the film at all. And when one thinks to themselves, “Hmmm, a movie about some messed up chick and love and missing people and whatever else was in that trailer,” one typically doesn’t conjure up thoughts of these scenes being backed by Mazzy Star or Death Cab For Cutie. Instead it seems, in the interest of cohesion, the official soundtrack rather took bits and pieces of songs from the film and combined them with like tracks to make an album that doesn’t jump around in a schizophrenic frenzy.

As ridiculous as it sounds in this day and age of profiteering, it fully appears that the soundtrack’s producers were more interested in capturing a vibe and making an album rather than merely compiling all of the songs from the film and squirting it out on a plastic disc regardless of how well it worked as a whole. In fact, many fans in the music world at one time or another have purchased a soundtrack for one or two specific songs, only to find that the rest of the tunes have as much in common as Perry Como and Type O Negative. Thus, it is a welcome piece of work in the Wicker Park soundtrack to find more of a vibe than a film memoir.

There are covers abound throughout the disc — Phil Collins, Neko Case, and Coldplay all get a reworking by Postal Service, Mates of State, and Johnette Napolitano, respectively. Death Cab For Cutie includes an acoustic version of “A Movie Script Ending.” Various other tracks are grabbed here and there from the artists’ original album releases. Still, over half of the offerings are new songs, either written exclusively for the soundtrack or are rare, unreleased tracks. And as one may notice by the list of artists within, all fall into the indie/ambient/emo arena without a single oddball thumb. (Don’t point that finger at Lifehouse, either, as their offering is pretty far from “Hanging By A Moment.”)

The highest points of the album arrive early with Stereophonics, Lifehouse, and Snow Patrol; the familiar sound of Mazzy Star perks up the mid-disc, and Postal Service’s impressive cover of “Against All Odds” jazzes up the latter half of the disc. Beyond this, however, there simply aren’t a lot of standouts. Most of the album, created with a particular sound in mind, simply tends to blend into that sound. Songs go by without the listener even realizing the tracks have changed. It’s a wall of mellow, a great wave of relaxation and possibly food for thinking. Still, there’s not a lot for one to jump up and hit the “skip” button in search of something better or to escape something awful. Unless, of course, we speak of the “love theme” of the film, “All I Do,” which if played repeatedly could slowly cause one to go insane from the continuous ethereal monotony.

For those who are fans of any of the bands within, there’s absolutely no reason why one would not welcome the Wicker Park soundtrack into one’s collection; if one is a fan of this sound, there’s plenty to be found within. It may not be the top of the replay pile, but it’s a great backdrop akin to what one may find at a coffeehouse. Certainly, this album was not put together to push a single or mass-market to the pop crowd; that in itself may be an appeal for indie folks. While aligning with a big-budget film that went nowhere may not be the greatest pairing when looking for a non-mainstream audience, it’s certainly better than calling it Now That’s What I Call Indie! Given a couple of the bigger names, and that might be precisely what one could dub the Wicker Park soundtrack.

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