Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Scott Pilgrimfest, Vol 3: vs. The Soundtrack

So this summer - now, as we lay it sadly down to rest, the past summer - was nominally The Summer of Scott. Or, if you're fancying a really over-stretched pun on a rubbish song, The Summer of Scott-n-Knives*. The idea of Scott Pilgrim spread, with various success, into every medium I care about - or, at least, every medium I can write passably about - and every medium that was important to the source material. Comic book, film, videogame... It might seem a slight cheat to include music in that. It's just a soundtrack. But, as I chatted up my review of the film, the music is key. It is, after all, a musical with punches in.
I know this is technically the score. But I like blue.
The soundtrack has a weird Moebius-loop quality to it. Songs that inspired the Scott Pilgrim comics in the first place nonchalantly rub shoulders with songs from its fictional bands. There's music you might recognise from those little playlists at the back of the books. There are songs that named characters. There are songs by those characters. The whole thing makes a perfect soundtrack to reading the comics all over again. Comics which are both the reason it exists. and which exist because some of these songs...

Thinking too hard about it is like staring at the sun. So, in the grand tradition of Scott himself, let's not think too hard and just have fun.

Which is very, very easy. This is an album which features, after all, Plumtree's Scott Pilgrim, a song which I spent all summer lusting over. Existing only as an easy way to get hold of that song, at party-friendly quality, would be enough.

I've spent at least as much time listening to every other song as I have playing that on constant loop, however. The soundtrack comes off as an easy, assured mixtape. You couldn't necessarily tell the fake songs from the real songs: possibly because they are drawn from the exact same musical lineage, and share at least one boundary-blurring talent (Miss Emily Haines, providing vocals on both on The Clash at Demonhead's Black Sheep and Broken Social Scene's Anthems for A Seventeen Year-Old Girl).
Metric/CaD
There are songs I have absolutely no memory of being in the film, but feel right. They fit right into the film as it exists in my memory, a perfect flickering ideal playing in my head. More importantly, they fit perfectly into the album.

As do the fictional songs. Having proved themselves in the film, here they get to be comfortable in their own habitat. The elevation of Scott's being-rubbish-is-the-whole-point Ramona, into not only a catchy acoustic number but also a full-blown heartwrenching Beck song, is triumphant. Placing them one after the other on the soundtrack is just showing off.

You could hand this to someone with no prior knowledge and, if you didn't tell them it was a soundtrack, they probably wouldn't know. There's the odd talky bit (see: Crash & The Boys' 0:13 opus I Am So Sad, So Very Very Sad) but, hey, Surfer Rosa had those too. It just gives a sense of inclusivity, and helps it all come off as a very comfortable mixtape.

I've tried to avoid using the word 'compilation' throughout. That's because of how heartfelt this feels, a million miles from being a Now That's What I Call... collection of songs. It transcends being a soundtrack, even. But listening to this, partying to it in a living room with a huge Scott Pilgrim poster dominating one wall, makes me like the film more.
Seeya!

*Yeah. I know. Sorry.

1 comment:

Tom said...

"Ramona" just kind of highlights the problem I had with the film... in the comic, it looks like the most unimaginative drivel he could possibly have come up with, just singing the same word again and again, you imagine there isn't anything interesting or beautiful about that song. But the song in the film is tuneful, it sounds meaningful, it still has the hopeless lyrics but in a way that doesn't seem to matter because it makes such a nice sound. And it completely fails to support the story, and the characters, and the principle that Scott is a crappy ass boyfriend.

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Videogames, film, music, comics: feed them into the Alex-Spencer machine and out come neat little articles. Like the ones you're looking at here.