Soundtrack (Film)
Dallas Buyers Club


2.0
poor

Review

by Green Baron USER (159 Reviews)
February 13th, 2014 | 7 replies


Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Like going to Hell and back.

It's hard to find a truly great movie soundtrack these days - these days, most of them come off as compilations of tracks that are far from the artists' best material. One can wonder if their appearance is only for publicity, as people who see these blockbuster films may be interested in checking out the accompanying soundtrack. Target audience is also key: movie executives aren’t going to slap on a dozen country songs on a horror flick and call it a day, nor will they make black metal the sound of an animated children's film. Dallas Buyers Club itself was a breathtaking motion picture driven by the extraordinary performances from Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. Its accompanying soundtrack, however, is less than satisfying. Filled to the brim with lifeless, stale indie-rock tracks, the supporting album to one of the year’s most gripping films is a complete waste of talent and potential.

Judging by the bands on the soundtrack, Dallas Buyers Club mostly wants to appeal to the indie crowd, while throwing in a few artists of other genres. However, it’s unsure which part of the spectrum that the album wants to cater to. There are groups like Capital Cities and Fitz and the Tantrums, who carry more of a poppy sound, mixed in with bands like T. Rex and My Morning Jacket. One could say that the soundtrack is trying to the widest possible audience; however, it just comes off as lazy and unfocused. Hearing The Naked and Famous right after Shuggie Otis is pretty awkward, and kills any mood that the latter song would have resonated.

Expecting bands like the aforementioned Capital Cities or The Airborne Toxic Event to actually make quality material is pretty hard, and it’s no surprise that their contributions to the Dallas Buyers Club soundtrack are subpar. The former’s synthpop-influenced take on the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” is just as lifeless and sterile as their other works, as vocalist Ryan Merchant has never sounded this bored before. Even the soundtrack’s lead single, “Hell and Back”, suffers from a lack of energy and memorability. Beneath all the “la la la”s and “stomp-clap-stomp”s are layers of unoriginality and triteness, a problem that has been plaguing The Airborne Toxic Event ever since their début.

It seems like so many bands just lent their B-sides to the soundtrack, as evidenced by the mediocre contributions by The Naked and Famous and Portugal. The Man. Had these tracks been on their last album, they would be amongst its weakest songs. “Following Morning” feels like a dabble in atmospheric dream pop with some mild shoegaze influences, but falls short mainly because of its lengthiness and lack of a memorable hook. Harmonically, both singers’ voices mesh together pretty well – it’s a shame they couldn’t make it more memorable. Meanwhile, Portugal’s cover of T. Rex’s “Main Man” manages to take away everything that made the original so great (even masking the crunching guitar riff behind layers of slick production).

Luckily, Dallas Buyers Club is saved by a few excellent songs from a few excellent artists. Both My Morning Jacket and Cold War Kids continue to demonstrate their talent with high-energy, heartfelt tracks that are filled to the brim with soaring vocals and gritty riffs. "Ready to Be Called On" has all the elements of a perfect MMJ song, including the wailing guitar solos and jazzy saxophone outro. Even the acoustic version of Jared Leto’s own “City of Angels” isn’t too bad; the stripped-down arrangement removes some of the pretentiousness that plagued the studio version. The soundtrack’s true highlight, however, comes from Manchester Orchestra’s “After the Scripture”, a dark, brooding tune featuring nothing but Andy Hull and the occasional guitar strum from Robert McDowell. Reminiscent of a Keaton Henson track, the song utilizes its incredibly emotional and morose vocals to flawlessly express the feelings of despondence and melancholy.

Overall, the Dallas Buyers Club soundtrack is one that really isn’t worth your time or money. Aside from three superb songs, the whole album is a collection of drab indie pop/rock that ultimately falls flat due to its lack of memorability. Manchester Orchestra, Cold War Kids and My Morning Jacket make the compilation at least somewhat interesting; however, it isn’t enough to overcome its blemishes. More times than not, it feels like the soundtrack was given The movie may have been interesting and enthralling, but its accompanying soundtrack is anything but.



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user ratings (2)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Green Baron
February 12th 2014


24335 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

The return.



I apologize for everything. Writing may be a little rusty, feedback appreciated.

MisterTornado
February 12th 2014


4507 Comments


reviews lookin' good. if only bradford cox did the soundtrack...

YourDarkAffected
February 12th 2014


1834 Comments


Yeah, I thought this of all movies should have used an original orchestral score. The indie soundtrack just didn't fit the mood imo.

TwigTW
February 13th 2014


3515 Comments


I thought you were going to be wrong about this one--but your review got it right. This is a really odd collection of songs . . . And that cover of “Main Man” is the worst--good review.


Digging: The Bathers - Sunpowder

indigonowhere
Emeritus
February 13th 2014


10727 Comments


Yeah, this is a good review man. You do a pretty good job of describing the music and how it works in context of the soundtrack. One thing that I have mixed feelings about is your argument that these songs sound like b-sides- or, rather, that they ARE.

these days, most of them are just filled with B-sides left over from old recording sessions, and their appearance on the record is just for publicity.

Who says this is the case? I get that you may perceive it that way, but that doesn't necessarily mean your point can be presented as fact. Chances are, a fair bit of these artists are proud of the songs they made here. It may be true that the songs don't work well in context of the movie, but that doesn't inherently mean they were written with malicious intentions, see? Just be careful with such strong statements.

the stripped-down arrangement removes some of the pretentiousness that plagued the studio version

Pretentiousness is almost always used incorrectly on this site, and here you have no grounds to use it. If you're going to say the word, at least explain why- we don't want to needlessly use a word that's as reductive to the artist and his/her intentions as that is, and/or something as vague as the word 'pretentious'. If you know the exact intent of the artist who made the tune, and it's to "attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed," then go full speed ahead. Otherwise, avoid. (this isn't a big deal at all but I figure it's worth discussing)

Don't get caught up on these specifics I've brought up, for this is a pretty good review. It's just that sometimes I get the impression that you're making unfairly strong arguments against the musicians at hand because you don't care for what they did, which is a tough tightrope to tread. But ultimately, this is a really promising review- your descriptions, for example, are really on point. You do a good job of explaining the way the songs sound, in addition to providing a helpful context in regard to comparing the songs to the past material by the artists.

Another thing to consider is condensing your ideas a bit more, for a fair bit of this review is redundant- arguing that these indie tunes don't belong in the movie, etc. Maybe you could also include a paragraph on what kind of soundtrack WOULD have worked well in the movie.

Green Baron
February 13th 2014


24335 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Thanks for the feedback Omaha - I know I'll be using that thread more now ;)



Will edit that line in the beginning about B-sides: came off a lot more direct and declarative than I wanted it to be.

SitarHero
July 30th 2015


7331 Comments


Ha! This is on wiki. xD

"Music critic Green Baron reviewed the music for the Sputnikmusic, and said: "Dallas Buyers Club itself was a breathtaking motion picture driven by the extraordinary performances from Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. Its accompanying soundtrack, however, is less than satisfying. Filled to the brim with lifeless, stale indie-rock tracks, the supporting album to one of the year's most gripping films is a complete waste of talent and potential." Baron thought that Dallas Buyers Club was saved by a few excellent songs, which were "Ready to Be Called On", "After the Scripture", and "City of Angels". He said that, "Overall, the Dallas Buyers Club soundtrack is one that really isn't worth your time or money. Aside from three superb songs, the whole album is a collection of drab indie pop/rock that ultimately falls flat due to its lack of memorability."



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