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Blue Valentine by Grizzly Bear

Blue Valentine

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Blue Valentine (Soundtrack) by Grizzly Bear

Blue Valentine
Composed by Grizzly Bear
Lakeshore Records (2011)

Rating: 2/10

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“Unfortunately though, no matter what emotions the film may convey, the score is an altogether different and often difficult listening experience. ”

Grizzly Plays the Blues
Review by Richard Buxton

In recent years a number of major releases have been scored by artists who have established their talents in drastically different musical forums to that of the motion picture, and often these experiments have resulted in successes. DAFT PUNK’S TRON LEGACY is a recent and very successful example of this. Yet despite the likes of DAFT PUNK and JONNY GREENWOOD (of THERE WILL BE BLOOD fame), the choice to employ an artist that resides in other genres of music is still one that is often frowned upon by film score enthusiasts. Perhaps it is a lack of trust in their scoring ability or a feeling that other genres of music are encroaching upon their preferred genre, or perhaps, and in the case of BLUE VALENTINE it is merely foresight.
The decision to employ the talents of the band GRIZZLY BEAR can surely be attributed to the nature of BLUE VALENTINE itself. Rather than take the traditional romantic comedy route, BLUE VALENTINE is a romantic drama that attempts to portray a more realistic vision of a real life relationship and the moments that fill its lifespan. This choice is an admirable one and would suggest a break from the clichéd music heard in the majority of romantic films in modern times. Unfortunately though, no matter what emotions the film may convey, the score is an altogether different and often difficult listening experience.
What is immediately noteworthy is a number of the tracks titles. Tracks 3-7 are all named (instrumental) and a quick look down the tracklist will reveal why. Tracks 3-6 are actually instrumental versions of tracks 12-15. On a regular album this may not seem out of place; on a score it is glaring. It effectively reduces the number of tracks by a quarter, as the instrumental versions of each track are virtually identical to their vocal versions. The fact that three of the various other tracks are by artists other than Grizzly Bear suggests that a lack of material may have been a problem in the scoring of BLUE VALENTINE.
Even with this distinct lack of substance, surely the strong compositions can erase any further doubts though? Unfortunately not. The majority of BLUE VALENTINE, while admittedly just about appropriate to the tone of the film, contains very little in the way of structure and contains nothing resembling a theme.
The soundtrack opens with “Granny Diner”, a lethargic, almost ambient piece that culminates in a confusing finale of sudden vocals. This, unfortunately, is about as good as it gets for the original music.
The instrumentals such as “Easier”, “Lullaby” and “I Live With You” all seem to reside in a musical limbo. Neither particularly stimulating as a regular release nor appropriate for a score, the tracks would be more suited to a montage sequence rather than the backbone of the entire score. The vocal versions of these tracks offer little to nothing more, as the inconsequential lyrics drone by. “I Live With You” is a particular challenge to listen to; the constant refusal to evolve above mere repetition and noise is infuriating and almost singlehandedly kills any momentum the score might have gained.
Surprisingly, the highlight of the original music heard in the soundtrack comes from the lead actor himself, RYAN GOSLING. “You Always Hurt The Ones You Love” never approaches brilliance, but amongst such mediocrity it somehow shines.
The two licensed tracks “In Ear Park” by DEPARTMENT OF EAGLES and “You and Me” by PENNY & THE QUARTERS provide a welcome respite from the original music, but cannot rescue the score.
The nature of BLUE VALENTINE is a deliberately realistic and depressing one, but it is thus out of artistic intention and merit. The score however multiplies this mood, not through ingenious scoring ability, but through its incessant and mind-numbing droning. In this case it seems the experimentation has proven that the tried and tested route of the film composer is often the preferable one.


Rating: 2/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Granny Diner 4:44  **
2 In Ear Park (Department of Eagles) 3:10  **
3 Easier (Instrumental) 3:39  **
4 Lullabye (Instrumental) 5:18  *
5 I Live with You (Instrumental) 5:08  *
6 Foreground (Instrumental) 3:30  **
7 Dory (Instrumental) 4:25  *
8 You Always Hurt the Ones You Love (R. Gosling) 1:40  **
9 You and Me (Penny & The Quarters) 2:40  ***
10 Shift (Alternate Version) 3:31  **
11 Alligator (feat. Zach Condon, Dave Lonstreth & Amber coffman (Choir Version) 5:15  **
12 Easier 3:40  **
13 Lullaby 5:15  *
14 I Live with You 4:57  *
15 Foreground 3:33  **
  Total Running Time (approx) 61 minutes  




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