Review Summary: Modestly does what it was created to do.
The Knife is
Karin Dreijer Andersson - Vocals/Lyrics
Olaf Dreijer - Vocals/Production
From the get-go, Hannah Med H Soundtrack's vastly instrumental presentation leaves no surprises for this type of album. Actually, album opener Real Life Television is rather annoying, albeit a decent mood-setter. The first of this album's minimal vocal work begins on track 2, Hanna's Conscious. This is also the first of the soundtrack's decent tracks, which makes up for the poor introduction. Of course, there are no lyrics to speak of on said track, but there's definately a more accomplished sense of ambience than that of Real Life Television.
Next, track 3 is the first structured song on the record. Handy-Man, which I believe was released as a single, is a rather upbeat-sounding song with downbeat lyrics sung by Olaf. It's very catchy too, in my opinion, with a jumpy rhythm following pseudo-club computer sounds. The later song Wanting To Kill feels remotely similar to this track, but is overall a much emptier track. To me, Olaf can't nearly sing as well as his sister Karin, but his voice was a better choice for this type of song.
Hannah Med H Soundtrack starts off fair and well, following a modest and atmospheric High School Poem, but we've yet to reach the album's highlight. New Year's Eve is easily my favorite track on the album, deviating the mood to a cheerful, bouncy and light song perfect to dance to. Like several songs on Hannah Med, New Year's Eve has steel drums, though they shine the most on this catchy track. If there's anything off of HMHS worth getting (that isn't available on their album Deep Cuts), it's New Year's Eve. Great track.
If I were to describe the orientation of the soundtrack, it would be gloomy with cheery spots sprinkled about. From what I've read, Hannah Med H isn't exactly a happy movie, so this seems fitting for the OST. Three Boys carries over the happy mood and steel drums that New Year's Eve sprung up in it's short duration, only to be overshadowed (and diminished) by the eerie This Is Now. A solid track, quite well-placed after the last 2 tracks, but it's quite boring to swallow whole. It feels like elongated ambience at the least, but chilling at it's best. From here on, the mood plummets to much darker depths to shake that God-forsaken hint of light seen earlier.
The Bridge is a good song, but things don't really pick up until the later half. There's rattling percussion all-pervading, which is danceable but shallow. This track was also the closer to the 17-track version of Deep Cuts, and to me, feels better as an album closer to that record. Afterwards, we're met with the formless desolation of Copenhagen, a chilliing minute-long track with possibly the best ambient effect so far. It imparts feelings of total darkness, feeling lost, and utter hopelessness tying it together. Jen's Sneaking follows a similar formula, but ultimately losing it's effect with diced sections of rhythm to tease at having a structure. Vegetarian Resturant follows with a relaxing "at home" vibe to kind of chill you out after that little spook. That abatement is then taken and stirred up with the film noir-ish detective number At The Cafe.
There are faint, ghostly vocals across At The Cafe and follow-up A Different Way, and then Poetry By Night comes in with unusually calming vocals. Poetry By Night ends up being the most interesting ambient track on the soundtrack, then all serenity is shattered by Listen Now, the energetic album closer. The chorus is annoying at first, but most of this song is bubbly and cheerfully electric, and turns out being a great way to set the soundtrack down.
The moods and collected atmospheres may vary throughout, and while some of this ambience is relatively good, it's merely meant to be background noise and in that form can only accomplish so much. There are some standout tracks to check out (New Year's Eve for full song, Poetry By Night for shorter song), but in the end, there is little here to interest casual listeners, casual fans of The Knife, or even casual fans of Hannah Med H. I would heartily recommend the Knife's 2003 record Deep Cuts for something similar (and better) to HMHS, plus 4 these songs (Handy-Man, This Is Now, The Bridge, and Listen Now) are all on the 17-track edition of that record. And best of all, Heartbeats is on that record too.