Think about that first mixtape you made for someone you cared about. What was on it? What wasn't? How many hours did you spend coming up with the perfect songs, in the perfect order, parsing the collection with chemist-like precision to make sure there were no subconscious errors or possibilities for misinterpretation?
Defining love musically has never been easy, but the team behind the soundtrack for "Crazy, Stupid, Love." offer their attempt: electronic music and neo-folk singer-songwriters.
Aside from the occasional forays into classic R&B (Doris Troy's "Just One Look") and modern funk (The Bamboos' "On the Sly"), downtempo groups and acoustic male singers dominate the album. Thievery Corporation, seemingly included on one out of every two indie film soundtracks these days, makes two appearances with "The Numbers Game" off 2008's "Radio Retaliation" (featuring go-go pioneer Chuck Brown) and "The Heart's a Lonely Hunter" off 2005's "The Cosmic Game." It's an easy pick; hey, go for the low-hanging fruit if it's tastes good, right? But with the addition of Goldfrapp's 2005 hit "Ooh La La," only Mark Ronson's 2009 remix of Miike Snow's "Animal" could propel this side of the soundtrack into anything quasi-current.
The album fares better on the mellower end. Canadian indie folk group The Acorn's gorgeous, plaintive "Almanac" deftly segues into California rock group Gram Rabbit's "Lost in Place," the latter fusing cold beats with warm vocal melodies reminiscent of Zero 7. Australia's The Middle East ends the album perfectly with "Blood," which, like some relationships, starts off quiet and reflective but ends with anthemic, bombastic instrumentation.
So there's not anything revelatory to the "Crazy, Stupid, Love." soundtrack. But maybe we're asking for too much. Maybe we hear the words "love" and "soundtrack" and automatically conjure all those wasted/valuable hours spent creating a diverse mix of songs; a dozen or so arrows shot into the air in the hopes that a few will hit the target. Fans of downtempo and mellow, acoustic music will dig this album, though more importantly, it may inspire you to make a soundtrack of your own.
1. The Numbers Game – Thievery Corporation
2. Almanac – The Acorn
3. Lost in Place – Gram Rabbit
4. The Heart’s a Lonely Hunter – Thievery Corporation & David Byrne
5. Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair (Jaffa Remix) – Nina Simone
6. Animal (Mark Renson Remix) – Miike Snow
7. Ooh La La – Goldfrapp
8. Just One Look – Doris Troy
9. Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh – Say Hi
10. On the Sly – The Bamboos
11. I Need Your Love – Marilin Medina, Martin Medina & Jason Ruder
12. Blood – The Middle East