If Jon Brion met Explosions in the Sky in a bar, they might become Stuck in Love: 1 Film, 2 Records

This is the narrative I want to propose. But I may be short sighted.

  1. I haven’t seen the movie.
  2. I know nothing of what I speak—as far as Bright Eyes’ aesthetics and member’s contributions and such.

I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Bright Eyes. Can’t say I even really know the work enough to say I’m not a fan. Generally I don’t listen to the efforts beyond a couple songs that came my way and happened to stick; others I may have heard in passing or on the radio, but it was without recognition of author.

And yet, here I am (kind of) reviewing Bright Eyes because Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott of Bright Eyes have done the music for Stuck in Love and released two records for it, one of which—the soundtrack—includes Conor Oberst, amongst others, and very much unites with the hipster indie crowd that Oberst has thrived upon. The other is the score and is from which my title relates.

It’s a strange sort of score. Much of the first half consists of the melodics that put Explosions in the Sky on the map via outlets such as Friday Night Lights and then the record becomes a bit quirky, exhibiting piano stylings (as well as ways of recording) that mimic Brion’s sensibilities. In between are a couple cool jazz pieces that sound like office party background and a Christmas track that I assume works in the film, but is kind of out of place on the record.

So why should I even write about it? I am one to avoid writing about material that generally doesn’t take me to new places.

Simply, it’s a good piece of work. Poppy, eclectic, heartfelt tales that speak to the sensibilities of time passing, broken relationships and all around life confused. In this situation, it is merely my listening that puts me at a disadvantage from experiencing as I cannot help but feel I have heard all this before. I imagine the movie it supports and know why it all works quite well.

As I said before, one record is the soundtrack containing original songs along with bits of score and other artist tracks, and the other record is the straight up score. They are, for obvious reasons, not dissimilar. One simply has a lack of lyric songs. But they carry a similar weight, can be appreciated for very a many reason.

In pure perception I lean to the score because the tracks are substantial and I find that the mixture of score and lyrical stances a bit jarring in an unpleasant way. My mind wraps around the reality that I am listening to music from a film. This is not assisted by the fact that the first track on the soundtrack proper is a bit from the score, which induces my brain to insist that there shall be no lyrics here.

Not to say that I am against releases built on music from films. I just generally associate these records with music that can be found on other records and if I wanted the music I would just buy the original records and provide the artists behind those original records more profit. This of course recognizes that in a case like this the soundtrack is the original record, for the most part, but my brain still interprets it with the same animosity.

So what am I getting at? I guess it’s that both records are quite good. They do the job asked of them. But it’s not groundbreaking music. I don’t think it is supposed to be. It’s music that fits the film at hand, I presume.

I plead ignorance to Bright Eyes and the aesthetic carried with such a responsibility. Undoubtedly there is a certain expectation that music created by Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott would indeed be somewhat of past efforts; if separation were desired there would be someone else at the helm.

So, yes. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” *

Maybe.

*Charles Caleb Colton

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