Review Summary: Unlike their critically acclaimed albums, Soundtracks plays it safe by taking no risks, but is still entertaining throughout.
During a period in which Canâ€™s original vocalist, Malcolm Mooney, had left the band and newly hired vocalist, Damo Suzuki, had been just settling in, Can took a break from their studio session to instead focus on writing songs for various movie soundtracks. While doing so, they took two songs recorded with Mooney and five songs recorded with Suzuki and compiled them into what is widely considered to be their second studio album: Soundtracks.
While it isnâ€™t technically a studio album since all seven songs were originally written and released with the intention of being in film, the album is so well organized that itâ€™s difficult to even notice that itâ€™s technically a compilation. Particularly, the shift from opener â€śDeadlockâ€ť to â€śTango Whiskymanâ€ť is almost a segue in its seamless transition (though it could be argued that this is because they were originally recorded and used for the same movie.) Also, because the tracklist was set in favor of flow over chronological release, itâ€™s noticeable that Can meant for Soundtracks
to even be listened to as if it were a studio album.
Now what about the songs themselves? Sadly, even Suzukiâ€™s best moments on the album fail to reach even half of brilliance of the high points on the critically-acclaimed Tago Mago
, Ege Bamyasi
, and Future Days
. However, â€śMother Skyâ€ť foreshadows what is to come on the longer songs of their critically-acclaimed period. Clocking in at about 14 and a half minutes, "Mother Sky" is three quarters as long as the rest of the album. Another interesting track,â€śDon't Turn the Light On, Leave Me Alone,â€ť displays a unique example of angst not usually found in progressive rock as he demands for his solitude. Oddly enough though, it isnâ€™t Suzukiâ€™s epic who steals the show on Soundtracks.
â€śShe Brings the Rain,â€ť which is sang by Mooney, is easily the most memorable, emotional, and even commercial-sounding song on the entire album. Mooney refrains from using his typical aggressive and raspy chants, to a more sweet and endearing croon as he sings lyrics akin to vivid poetry. Not only does this tie the album together beautifully, but it also makes one wish that Mooney had provided at least one song similar on Canâ€™s debut, Monster Movie
, which was where Mooney had gotten his primary spotlight.
Instrumentally, most of the songs follow a similar style of late 60s/early 70s psychedelic progressive rock. Despite being considered part of the krautrock scene, (and having albums that follow more typical krautrock experimentation,) Can is far more humble on Soundtracks.
Playful drums and strong lead guitar lines that still manage to be mellow and spacey dominate the first six tracks, but yet again, â€śShe Brings the Rainâ€ť is stylistically different. Lead by a dominate bassline and accompanied by a floaty rhythm guitar and orchestral strings, the song barely even passes for rock, let alone progressive rock. Whatâ€™s even more interesting is the complete lack of percussion on the song, when the rest of the of the album was filled with incredibly active drums. If anything, â€śShe Brings the Rainâ€ť is best described as a lounge song trapped on a prog album.
, is hardly daring and could even be considered boring by some fans of their critically-acclaimed period since Can is typically an experimental band, but overall, itâ€™s probably best to consider Soundtracks
to be a charming mid-step between Mooneyâ€™s Can and Suzukiâ€™s Can.
Highlights: â€śTango Whiskeymanâ€ť, â€śMother Skyâ€ť, â€śShe Brings the Rainâ€ť