Twilight

 
The bottom line? Let's face it; the bottom line is not impressed.
 
Though I've not reviewed a soundtrack by Carter Burwell before, I've seen his name around plenty of times.  Enough to know it when I spotted it.  Surprisingly enough, I was referred to this soundtrack by a friend, whose musical tastes are a far cry from what we've got going on here.  Even she admitted she was surprised she liked it.  Of course, soundtrack junkie that I am, how could I turn that down?  I'd been looking for some gripping instrumental stuff, so I decided to give this a try.
 
There are 21 tracks, but the whole CD only clocks in at around 46 minutes.  Most of these songs fail to break the 3 minute mark.  In fact, only 5 songs actually hit 3 minutes or above, but only one of those tops 4 minutes.  That often makes me wary.  A lot of quality soundtracks can and do have short songs, but most of the truly good ones will have some really sweet pieces of longer music.
 
Let me add that I haven't seen the movie Twilight and have no intention of doing so.  I've read the book, and that was plenty to satisfy my curiosity of "What's the hubbub about?"  I've not heard the greatest things for the movie, though I think perhaps seeing it might help put this music in better context because it's just so...let's just say it doesn't seem to fit.  Here's the track list, but I'm not going to go through each one like I normally do, and with good reason.
 
1. How Would I Die
2. Who Are They?
3. Treaty
4. Phascination Phase
5. Humans Are Predators Too
6. I Dreamt Of Edward
7. I Know What You Are
8. Most Dangerous Predator
9. Skin Of A Killer
10. Lion Fell In Love With A Lamb
11. Complications
12. Dinner With His Family ~ shortest at 0:40
13. I Would Be The Meal
14. Bella's Lullaby
15. Nomads
16. Stuck Here Like Mom
17. Bella Is Part Of The Family
18. Tracking
19. In Place Of Someone You Love
20. Showdown In The Ballet Studio ~ longest at 4:50
21. Edward At Her Bed
 
I do have to say that I really like some of the track names.  I appreciate Carter Burwell's skill with music, but that's about as far as it goes.
 
The best way I can describe this music is that it's like Thomas Newman if he'd gone Bohemian, or was, perhaps, smoking something mildly hallucinogenic.  Now that's not an insult against Burwell since he's certainly more successful than me and the music is interesting.  It's just that it's...just kind of strange and in a strange way.  I suppose maybe I should expect so considering some of Burwell's other scores (Fargo, Being John Malkovitch, Burn After Reading). It's quite hard to describe other than the Newman reference above.  The tracks are all rather quiet, using a limited number of instruments for each one.  You won't find a lot of brass, you'll find a lot of drums, sharp/flat notes, and an overall darkish feel.  I guess that's because of the whole vampire thing, but it just doesn't feel right.
 
There are two main themes going on in this CD, and that's basically it.  There's some variation of these themes, but ultimately, that's all you get.  One is Bella's Lullaby.  Her theme is taken and picked apart to fit into other pieces throughout the entire CD.  Burwell is not the first to do bits of theme, but I think he may be the first (for me) to have done it throughout practically the entire CD.  It gets dull.  And I have to add that I am not a fan of Bella's Lullaby and frankly, if a guy played that for me and said that's what he thought of when he thought of me, I might cry because it just strikes me wrong.  It's not soothing and just kind of...makes my heart sad.  Not even me sad, my heart sad.  Admittedly, it's pretty, but not in a happy way. I certainly don't want to fall asleep to it.
 
The other main theme is the action theme, I suppose one could call it.  It first crops up in "How I Would Die" and then "Humans are Predators Too" and then every action-related scene since, from "Skin of a Killer" to "Showdown in the Ballet Studio."  And they're all essentially the same.  Like, every time.  When I got to the showdown song, I literally said aloud, "Is this the same thing again?"  The action theme is all drums and rhythm, and actually kind of makes me think of something with a slightly African flavor.  Shakes and jangles and heavy beats.
 
Now don't get me wrong - it's not that this music is bad.  It's just not inspiring and it doesn't lend itself to many repeat listens.  You get a repeat listening every time you play the CD due to the similarity of the tracks.  It's good for what it is and I suppose it works for the downbeat, darkish style of the movie, but for me...I'm just not jazzed about it.  I don't hate Twilight either (the book I mean, though that too I'm actually just unimpressed with), but that doesn't have any bearing on how I view the CD (for those that might think so).
 
If you liked the movie and liked the music you heard in the background, then go for it.  Enjoy it.  For others, I think it may be more of an acquired taste.  For the rest of you, I think you can do better.  My ears deemed it barely worth the three stars.  It's just not for me.  Too many sharp notes?  Flat notes?  Composition?  I don't think I'll ever know.
 
NT
 
P.S. I'm not ready to concede yet when it comes to the Twilight phenomenon.  Alexandre Desplat is handling the New Moon score, and that's one I'm more excited about listening to.
 
Originally published on Epinions.com

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I am an author, I sell books for a living, and I love music like there's no tomorrow. I've experienced much of this country, from forested hills of the East, to the golden plains of the Midwest, the sandy beaches of the Southeast, and the oh-so-majestic mountains of the Rockies. And when all else fails, eat chocolate.