Various Artists

Label: Varese Sarabande


It's difficult to fairly assess the soundtrack for a film you've never seen. This is especially true for the instrumental passages composed, arranged, performed and produced by Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott specifically for the movie, Stuck in Love. There's no way to know what the two members of Bright Eyes' intentions were. Likewise, all the songs used in the film and included on the soundtrack were ostensibly chosen to augment and support what was happening on screen. So we know the package has rime and reason, but you have to have seen the movie to know what it is.

So, forget the film. As a stand-alone project, the soundtrack is a sampler of light, contemporary pop built on the music of the Omaha, Nebraska circles orbiting around Bright Eyes. From the band's creator and mastermind, Conor Oberst, we get the acoustic folk of "You Are Your Mother’s Child." From 2000, we get the full band's surreal imagery on the raucous "The Calendar Hung Itself." Beyond their short incidental instrumentals, Mogis and Walcott also appear on two new songs. Teaming up with Big Harp, the two play on "At Your Door" featuring Stefanie Drootin-Senseney (vocals), Chris Senseney (vocals) and Clark Baechle (drums). Finishing off the album, and presumably the film, the spirited "Somersaults In Spring" is by Friends of Gemini who areMogis, Walcott, Baechle, along with Corina Figueroa Escamilla and Nik Freitas on vocals.

The other six songs come from a range of artists and times. The relatively unknown Rio Bravo performs the affirmative pop ballad, "American Man." Chicago's Like Pioneers give us "Polkadot" and Wallpaper Airplanes provide their most famous track, 2008's ethereal ballad, "Will You Be By Me." Rounding out the set are gentle songs including Elliott Smith's 1997 "Between the Bars," "A Mountain, A Peak"(2002) by Bill Ricchini, and "I Won't Love You Any Less" (2011) by Nat & Alex Wolff.

The musical menu of Stuck in Love suggests the film, written and directed by Josh Boone, will be an airy, low-key character study. The plot, apparently, deals with divorced parents Jennifer Connelly and Greg Kinnear and the impact they've had on their two children. Well, you need not know this storyline to appreciate the soundtrack. But you do need an appreciation of Bright Eyes and the breed of musicians in the same Indy pop mold.

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