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Karen O and The Kids - Where the Wild Things Are Motion Picture Soundtrack [Album]

Karen O and The Kids - Where the Wild Things Are Motion Picture Soundtrack [Album]

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Review 2957 Views
Last Edited by: Chris MUG5 Maguire December 22nd, 2009.

In an age where most modern movie soundtracks appear to have been assembled randomly through the iTunes 'genius' application it's refreshing to find a director ambitious enough to commission an original soundtrack. That indie wunderkind Spike Jonze has opted to hire his ex-girlfriend (Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O) is a moot point. Personal ties or not her voice perfectly suits the organic, innocent tone of the film and sounds great cast away from the Yeah Yeah Yeah's ever more electronic backdrop into a realm of tribal indie-pop crafted by a cast of genre peers. Such as her Yeah Yeah Yeah's band-mates Nick Zinner and Brian Chase, Deerhunters Bradford Cox, Liars Aaron Hemphill and The Dead Weather's Dead Fertita. It's an indie-rock supergroup then to all intents and purposes so what are they doing sound-tracking a major motion picture?

Cat Stephens soundtrack to Hal Ashby's seminal quirky indie-film 'Harold and Maude' or more recently Johnny Greenwood's score for oscar-grabbing epic 'There Will Be Blood,' show that for decades mainstream artists have been producing film soundtracks that accurately capture the themes and moods of a film. And lets be honest, we're all a little sick of the usual Elfman/Williams film scores which more often than not tend to fold into each other. So I applaud Jonze's chutzpah, especially when it results in music this life-affirming.

Karen O sets sail with her inner child with a set of songs which perfectly capture the mood of Jonze's film. Wisps of childish innocence are undercut by a vague sense of dread and darkness lurking just beneath the surface, a trait shared with the film where the lurking dread represents the approaching darkness of adulthood for protagonist Max. It's a colourful record mostly played on acoustic instruments which works on mood more than melody or rhythm. Brisk, instrumental passages sit alongside more convention al songs such as the stunning 'Worried Shoes,' such songs bode well for Miss O's solo career if she ever chooses to quit the day job.


There are moments where the clattering percussion and massed children's choirs can grate a little ('Rumpus' and it's reprise come to mind) but when heard in the context of the film I can imagine almost everything here sitting beautifully. In all I was pleasantly surprised by "Where The Wild Things Are," I didn't know what to expect but came away from it really wanting to give the movie a go (and surely that's the point?), that it also stands independently as it's own body of work is a remarkable achievement. I could have done with more actual 'songs' (when you have perfectly framed, delicately beautiful songs like 'Hideaway' and 'Animal' scattered throughout how could you not?) but these are small quibbles. A perfect record for recapturing lost-youth, scraped knees and all.



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