Review Summary: Not only songs to make you think about death and get sad and stuff.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the adaption of a comic book series by Bryan Lee O'Malley, was one of 2010's more interesting films, one of those destined to become a box office flop first and a cult classic later. Boasting some insane visuals and filled to the brim with gags and references, it's a must-see for anyone who loves classic video games. Also, given that the protagonist plays bass in a garage band, music obviously plays an important role in the plot, making one hope for some good tracks to appear on the official soundtrack. And appear they do.
The album offers a very nice variety of songs from both rock classics and some more or less obscure indie bands. Several of those tracks are perhaps somewhat underwhelming, but most of them may prove to be an excellent find for someone previously unaware of their existence. Frank Black's forgotten classic “I Heard Ramona Sing” is probably the highlight here, with its relaxed feel and awesome guitar work. Black Lips and Blood Red Shoes offer some punky edge with their songs, while Beachwood Sparks' “By Your Side” and the Bluetones' “Sleazy Bed Track” are mellow and, in the former's case, soothing tracks. There's also Plumtree's “Scott Pilgrim,” the song from which the protagonist was named, although it's more of a curiosity than something to admire. Along for the ride are two classic tunes from the Rolling Stones and T. Rex, which might seem out of place at first glance, but actually fit the rest of the selection nicely.
Still, it's thanks to the tracks made specifically for the movie that the album is something more than just your average soundtrack. Songs by the in-film bands (actually written by Beck, Metric and Broken Social Scene) are short, energetic garage tracks, with a bare bones approach and simplistic power trio arrangements. Pilgrim's own band, Sex Bob-Omb, gives us no less than four tracks, with just one of them (barely) reaching the two-minute mark; these include the trashy, almost instrumental “We Are Sex Bob-Omb”, and a great mid-tempo rocker “Garbage Truck”. Crash and the Boys mark their presence with two songs clocking in just over a minute altogether (including the extremely funny “I'm So Sad, So Very, Very Sad”), during which they manage to find space for a wicked bass intro. Both bands deliver hilariously vague lyrics, which can be only described as an affectionate parody of garage lyricists. Metric's “Black Sheep” is markedly different – although rather dark, it's also very poppy and catchy. It may drag on a bit too long for its own good, but otherwise it's one of the best songs here. Then we have two versions of “Ramona”, sung by Beck – the string-based one would feel right at home on one of Beck's calmer outings. Also of note is the instrumental reprise of “Threshold”, made in the style of 8-bit video games music, which is sure to bring a smile to the face of every NES veteran.
Overall, there is a fairly good flow between the songs for a soundtrack. Even though, as mentioned, some of them are not as great as others, there are no obnoxious or just plainly bad cuts. Aside from the deluxe edition's bonus tracks – three reprises of Sex Bob-Omb songs by Beck, which sound basically the same – there is not a truly pointless song to be found here, and even the weaker tracks may find their admirers, which is quite a feat when it comes to official soundtracks, which are more often than not rather random. And, perhaps even more importantly, the collection works fairly well on its own, even if fans will obviously appreciate it a lot more. Definitely an album to fall in lesbians with.