CD Review: TWILIGHT

Composer: Carter Burwell
Label: Atlantic
Suggested Retail Price: $9.99
Grade: B

With everything TWILIGHT being the teen fang rage, one might expect its music’s pointy teeth to be blowing bubble gum instead of digging into a richer creative vein- especially given how its song album hit number one before the film even came out. But thankfully, there’s a bit of musical meat beyond the marketing blitz. For not only has TWILIGHT’s megaplex success allowed for an accompanying score CD, but a listen to both soundtracks shows grown up males like me how to fathom this phenomenon. For if I was a devilishly handsome 100 + vampire trying to Mack on a high school girl, there are no two albums I’d rather have casting the kind of alt. rock spell that vampire-loving chicks dig.

We’re not talking Emily the Strange Goth girls here, but fairly fashionable tweeners who dig their darkness with a good helping of romance. TWILIGHT’s rock soundtrack gets by nicely with this non-threatening groove, with particularly good tunes being the angst-filled rhythms of Paramore’s “Decode,” the Steppenwolf echo guitar vibe of The Black Ghost’s “Full Moon” and the tender waltz of Iron & Wine’s “Flightless Bird, American Mouth.” But best in vampire rock show goes to the slow, erotic vibe and voices of Blue Foundation’s “Eyes on Fire,” which is exactly the kind of melodic bait that will let the right, hunky vampire in. Though these songs might not be on the order of THE LOST BOYS’ undead power pop, there’s no top 40 mediocrity about the coolly heart (and blood) felt tunes of TWILIGHT that charted this album faster than a flying bat.

While score fans who feared the one instrumental cut on this TWILIGHT soundtrack would be all they would feast on, its success has opened up a rich vein of Carter Burwell’s music on Atlantic. For as good as TWILIGHT’s vocal numbers might be, there’s no denying the important, almost ever-present power that Burwell’s work gives to the film’s dreamy atmosphere. But whom else would you call for the task than the composer whose score helped give clever life to the BUFFY movie that started it all? There’s no (intentional) camp here though, and most of the undead are far nicer, if not good-looking enough to eat. Burwell responds to the story’s teen fan base with swooning female voices, guitar work that can veer from the melancholy to the savage, and ethereal samples that cast a truly magical spell over the dew-speckled trees and vampire skin. It’s like a combo of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, a rock ‘shroom trip that plays the unconsummated romance between living and dead as the ultimate trip.

It’s not that Carter Burwell hasn’t excelled in bad boy romance before with scores like FEAR, even if the spirit of TWILIGHT comes off as a happier spin on the wooded rural terror of his BLAIR WITCH: BOOK OF SHADOWS score (easily the best thing about that ungodly sequel). Burwell’s deceptively nice guitar theme here does a lot to sell TWILIGHT’s romance. But underneath that James Dean ‘fro is a beast, and Burwell’s eruptions of frantic drumming shows the blood-hungry savage that Edward’s trying to keep in check, as well as the vamps who revel in it. It’s a primal beat that also ties Edward’s “family” to the Pacific Northwest, and the Indians who know what these ageless folks are- a use of musical storytelling that shows the thought and creativity that’s gone into Burwell’s score.

But whether Edward and Bella are being pulled together through instrumentals or vocals, the musical effect of TWILIGHT has an undeniable vampiric hypnotism to it. It’s the kind of atmospheric vibe that suggests the erotic power of being young, in love and undead. While the kind of musical fangs might not be out here as they are in the usually more horrific spins of said story, there’s plenty of supernatural, melodic goodness to bite into in these two TWLIGHT CD’s.

Rock out to TWLIGHT’s songs with Chop Shop Records, then sink your teeth into Carter Burwell’s score CD here.

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