Album Review

The Road Soundtrack

The Road Soundtrack

by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

3 / 10
8th February 2010

Reviewed by Brannavan Gnanalingam

American novelist Cormac McCarthy is hot property at the moment from Oprah Winfrey book club praise to Oscar Winning adaptations (No Country for Old Men). His 2007 novel The Road was a runaway success (personally I think it’s rather overrated – give me the hallucinations of McCarthy’s Blood Meridian), and was adapted in a film by John Hillcoat. Hillcoat, who made his name on the Nick Cave penned and scored Aussie Western The Proposition asked Cave and Dirty 3/Bad Seeds/Grinderman’s Warren Ellis to do the soundtrack for The Road, and hoped the Aussie institutions’ magic touch would do wonders for the film atmosphere. Unfortunately, Cave and Ellis failed.

Given this is a Hollywood film with a big name cast, and given Hollywood’s penchant for emotion-manipulating soundtracks (rather than using music in any sort of thematic, oppositional, or interesting way - obviously I’m generalising in a loose sense) Cave and Ellis soundtrack is nothing more than audience hand-holding muzak. It’s devoid of any risk-taking, of little use in a non-filmic context, and even in a filmic setting simply fulfils the type of manipulation which has led to Hollywood soundtracks particularly of the last decade to be completely forgettable.

Sure the music itself is nice. It’s pleasant to listen to at points and some of the tunes (such as ‘The Road’, ‘The Real Thing’, or when the guitars explode for a wee bit during ‘The House’) are interesting enough given the genius that Cave and Ellis possess. However much of the soundtrack is the type of stock horror film soundtrack, and does little to differentiate itself from sounding like standard background music. If anything, if Nick Cave in particular wasn’t involved, this soundtrack probably wouldn’t be notable enough to sell as a stand alone album.

Having not seen the film, it’s hard to judge the efficacy of the soundtrack without its corresponding images. But given a soundtrack should be integrally tied into the film, it’s not hard to imagine what the film would be like purely on listening to the soundtrack: sentimental, cheesy, obvious, unambiguous – almost entirely the opposite of what McCarthy’s novel itself is like. And it’s surprising that artists like Cave, who is an unashamed risktaker when it comes to the way his music works in film (e.g. The Wings of Desire, The Proposition), or Ellis, whose career is also full of sonic experimentation, would produce something as timid as this soundtrack.

Total: 1
user image
I think that this soundtrack is trully a perfect atmosphere round up for the movie. It really helps to build up the dark tone of the film; a minimalistic story that is everything but cheesy. To me Nick Cave and Warren Ellis achieve to transmit the despair and loneliness feelings of the movie caracthers that are far from being just mere Hollywood stereotypes, there is a deeper meaning in this "simple" story than just an apocaiptic tale. A minimalistic but yet powerfull score for a minimalistic and powerfull movie.
Posted by Alx pm - anonymous 5 years ago

your comments


Reviews - Latest