*** (of out 4)
To many cinephiles and classically trained composers, the idea of Skrillex venturing anywhere near a movie score would be blasphemy. The 25-year-old's floor-obliterating drops aren't exactly known for their nuance or mood but rather menace and bombast, aka the antithesis of what allows movie scores to subtly enhance the film.
Even still, the kid born Sonny Moore seemed like he might be a proper fit for "Spring Breakers," Harmony Korine's upcoming, seemingly wild tale of robbery-turned-spring-break-trip-turned-robbery (opening in Chicago March 22). And, paired with movie-score veteran Cliff Martinez ("Traffic," "Drive"), Skrillex makes the best of that potential, turning out a composition that's patient, opportune and, maybe most surprisingly, kinda quiet.
Since it's a soundtrack for a spring break movie, there are some bangers, however. They lift Skrillex's original "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" and a few Brick Squad tracks and litter them throughout, which tilt the continuity but serve as a reminder of the raucous landscape the album confronts.
The biggest name on the straight rap tracks isn't even an typical emcee but one of the film's stars, James Franco, who's listed as a feature on Dangeruss's grimy "Hangin With Da DopeBoys." Franco's voice, however, proves difficult to find. The earliest YouTube version of the song from March 2012 has three self-referencing Dangeruss verses and no mention of Franco anywhere, yet an identical song on the "Spring Breakers" album mentions him on the tracklist. Maybe it's an overdub, or he assists the hook, but it's a mystery to my ears.
The soundtrack's song titles are lifted straight from the original trailer and sound exactly like what you might expect from their names. Martinez's "Your Friends Ain't Gonna Leave With You" and "Big 'Ol Scardy Pants" are vaguely ominous and downright scary by the time they fully descend into their minor-key eletronica. Skrillex's "With You, Friends," is a standalone highlight, with blippy, cut-up vocal samples alongside a winding synth and piano that sound like the road-trip optimism of break.
With Martinez helping pilot the ship, the score cuts through the inherent (assumed) ridiculousness of the film and its Skrillex pairing, fostering a whimsical post-rock aesthetic that descends into mayhem and gloom at opportune moments.
The fitting final track, "Scary Monsters on Strings," again flashes the other side of Skrillex, with a luscious arrangement that gives the entire work a bleary-eyed catharsis, like waking up for the ride home thinking, "What just happened?"
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