‘New Moon’ music overcomes series stigma

Matilda Swartz

Vampires, werewolves and the teenagers they form relationships with, all amidst the rainy backdrop of Forks, Wash., are elements for a movie with a rather specific target audience. For those who lack an appreciation for the tousle-haired, fanged Brit and colorless, demure waif that dominate “New Moon,” the long-awaited sequel to last November’s “Twilight,” there is still something to be desired: the soundtrack.

Months before the movie’s trailer was even released, music Web sites were abuzz with talk of which artists would participate in the sophomore soundtrack.

The soundtrack for the first installment of the book-to-silver screen series was seasoned with recognizable names, most notably Muse, Paramore and a track by Rob Pattinson himself – stuff teenage girls could relate to.

For “New Moon,” returning music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas aimed to create a much more credible list of names – Radiohead front man Thom Yorke and Death Cab for Cutie were some of the first to hop on the project.

Patsavas is no stranger to queuing up tunes for entertainment phenomena (she supervised soundtracks for “The O.C.” and “Grey’s Anatomy”). The “New Moon” soundtrack exemplifies her knack for mixing music heavies with lesser known gems.

As one continuous piece, the album is a consistent flow of subdued acoustic and sometimes ambient music that many Washington natives probably would listen to.

With any compilation album though, there are a couple bits and pieces that just don’t fit. One relative upset is Death Cab’s “Meet Me on the Equinox,” a poor attempt for a rougher tone by Ben Gibbard at straying from the band’s signature sentimental sound. Muse’s “I Belong to You (New Moon Remix),” off their recently released “The Resistance” is the misfit of the bunch. Singer Matt Bellamy’s dramatic voice over the piano driven rock-ballad does nothing to complement its tamer co-tracks.

Despite a few uninspired pieces, there are plenty of strengths to the music of “New Moon.”

Yorke’s delivery in “Hearing Damage” is unsurprisingly smart and successful. Yorke knows what he’s good at – simple, mumbled vocals intertwined among a kaleidoscope of synth-sounds – and he sticks to it.

The pairing of Bon Iver and St. Vincent on “Roslyn” is wonderfully eerie in sound, as well as in how seamlessly both crooners combine vocal forces.

Even Brandon Flowers and the Killers (who have lost steam since the 2008 release of “Day & Age”) offer up a respectable showing, returning to their “Hot Fuss” roots with “White Demon Love Song.”

Cuts from the less-noted Anya Marina, Sea Wolf and 2009’s Brooklyn success story Grizzly Bear should not be skipped.

Regardless of one’s passionate lust or disgust for the “Twilight” series and the craze it has created, the “New Moon” soundtrack can certainly be enjoyed sans vampire love and other supernatural teenage rendezvous.

One recommendation for those dragged to the nearest multiplex for a forced viewing: sit contently with closed eyes and open ears, let the soothing soundtrack drown out Kristen Stewart and leave feeling like you got your money’s worth.