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‘Stuck in Love,’ a new movie starring Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman, Kristen Bell, and more, follows a troubled family on their quest to understand love—a divorced writer struggling to raise his teenaged children after the departure of his wife, while his children have their own first encounters with heartbreak; with its solid cast of bonafide indie darlings and a quirky-but-emotional plotline, ‘Stuck In Love’ already has a good chance of finding a place in those fans’ hearts.
Even people who didn’t like ‘Garden State’ can agree that the film’s accompanying music is a beautiful compilation. ‘Stuck in Love’ is obviously a different movie from ‘Garden State’ altogether, but the similarity can be found in the soundtrack. Thankfully, the ‘Stuck in Love’ score delivers. Peppered with familiar songs from Bright Eyes and Elliott Smith while still offering a staggering amount of new material and original compositions.
It’s not all old, though, with a large amount of new contributions from Oberst and others—Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott, typically known for their roles in the Oberst-fronted Bright Eyes, are the geniuses behind the ‘Stuck in Love’ soundtrack, composing and performing many original songs on the album. Like the soundtrack of ‘Garden State,’ the ‘Stuck in Love’ soundtrack is sure to charm even those who aren’t fans of the movie, while still being perfectly tailored to the film.
First, the familiar—one of Bright Eyes’ most aggressive tracks, “The Calendar Hung Itself,” from 2000’s Fevers and Mirrors, is included on the album. It’s a raw, powerful song where Oberst strays from his signature melancholy into an angry, accusatory tone, a perfect embodiment of teen angst. It’s Oberst thirteen years ago, before he evolved into the more polished musician today; it’s an angry, jealous, and disturbed song where Oberst rants, “Does he walk around all day at school/With his feet inside your shoes/Looking down every few steps/To pretend he walks with you?” Contrasted with Oberst’s newer “You Are Your Mother’s Child,” the listener gets to observe the jump from the old-to-new Oberst, where he exhibits a more mature, softer sound. “You Are Your Mother’s Child” is a regretful, heartbreaking track, but one of the best pieces on the album.
Then there is the late, great Elliott Smith’s famous melancholy in “Between the Bars,” the quiet-yet-catastrophically depressing, meandering track with his subtle, lamenting vocals.
The ‘Stuck in Love’ soundtrack boasts an impressive amount of new contributions—the strongest track from the album is by far “At Your Door,” from Nathaniel Walcott and Mike Mogis, featuring Big Harp. It’s a cheerful sounding back-and-forth between male and female vocals, wistful and folksy, a charming song that begs to be put on repeat.
Mogis and Walcott’s score pieces are a pure and gentle. The opening track, “Nosebleed,” is both unassuming and atmospheric, as is “Peeping Tom.” These instrumental songs help to carry the narrative of the film solely through the music, and it is a testament to Mogis and Walcott’s skills as both musicians and storytellers, as these compositions pack as much of an emotional punch as the tracks that include lyrics.
Other stand outs on the album include “Will You Be By Me” from Wallpaper Airplanes, an intricate, instrumentally layered track that builds on itself as the question, “Will you be by me?” is cooed over and over—it’s one of those songs that has a cinematic quality on its own, and when incorporated into the scene of a film, is strengthened. Bill Ricchini’s “A Mountain, A Peak” is another sleepier, sad track where Elliott Smith’s influence is obvious; it fits in seamlessly with the rest of the collection, which is one of the strongest aspects of this soundtrack.
Although it blends old and new, along with original score pieces, there is the same, overarching aesthetic that is achieved: the confusion of dealing with love and loss, and, most simply, being both happy and sad. It’s a soundtrack that fits perfectly in illustrating the story of ‘Stuck in Love,’ but the grouping of artists/songs is a formidable album on its own, too. It’s an organic, thoughtful, and careful blending of the feeling of simultaneously being hopeless and hopeful.
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