As with all highly anticipated soundtracks, I wanted to wait until I actually saw the movie before passing final judgement, and I have to say I’m surprised at the assessment I’m about to make. The biggest revelation being that while Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is definitely a very music oriented film, its prime motif is video games. The editing, the music, the production design, the costume design, style, special effects, everything – are all geared to support this. I know, I know, everyone else knew that but me. And I did know it. But now I understand just how important it is for anyone taking a listen to the soundtrack to be aware of that.
As far as a stand-alone listening experience goes, I’ll agree with the gentlemen at Consequence of Sound: it’s not bad, but kind of a wash – unless you’re privy to the nuances of thrash rock, I suppose (I am not). When Beck is name-dropped you expect something more interesting than what you hear on “We Are Sex Bob-Omb” or “Threshold,” and many of the gritty rock songs all blend together in the middle. I found that my favorite songs were departures from the norm – “Black Sheep” by Metric (also a fantastic use in the movie), “Scott Pilgrim” by Plumtree (cool fact: the comic book series that inspired the movie was inspired by this song), and Broken Social Scene’s “Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl.” What would have really helped it though can be found on the original score soundtrack. I realize that they probably helped the score record sell a few more copies, but “Slick (Patel’s Song)” by Dan the Automator and “Katayanagi Twins vs. Sex Bob-Omb” by Beck & Cornelius were key musical moments in the film and would have added a level of quirkiness to a soundtrack that needed it.
But to it’s credit, the music didn’t distract me at all during the film. Like I said, the music was a key part of the fabric, but it wasn’t the gimmick. While part of me did wish there was a bit more variation in the different bands that performed through out the course of the movie, none of them were out of place. And to be completely fair, Sex Bob-Omb isn’t supposed to be really good. My favorite part about the music though, is that it always had a sense of humor about itself. Superman (Brandon Routh) appeared as a killer bass player with “vegan powers.” Bands rocked so hard that giant neon animals erupted from amps and battled each other. “Under My Thumb” was wafting out of Jason Schwartzman’s limo when he told Scott that Ramona was his. You want to roll your eyes, but it’s hard not to smile while doing it. If only the soundtrack captured that same quality.