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The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Official Soundtrack


f nothing else, the films of Wes Anderson have exposed a generation of youngsters to some pretty good music. True, Anderson’s characters are slight, his films even slighter and, yes, his “quirkiness” grows more and more forced with each successive film. That much is obvious. But he’s got some great tunes, man!

And let’s face it: he has a constituency. I don’t really know which came first, Anderson or his adherents. But they’re out there, thousands of young Americans who aren’t really hip, but who give a decent appearance of being so. If they live in the suburbs, they probably pull it off. These are the kids who rocketed Garden State and Napoleon Dynamite into box-office nirvana. They’re also, more or less, the kids who read Eric Schlosser and Michael Moore, who watch The O.C. with as ironic an eye as they can muster and who listen to all the middle-tier bands currently successful enough to appear on the cover of SPIN, but not successful enough to really sell records (Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and The Killers). Obviously, these kids would never actually track down a record like Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! on their own. That’s where Wes comes in.

Every Wes Anderson film has featured songs on their soundtrack that, although probably well-known to the average Stylus reader, are unknown to the wider movie-going public. Artists as diverse as The Creation, The Who, Simon and Garfunkel, Nico and, now, Bowie, have all doubtlessly enjoyed minor renaissances amongst the kids in America. At the very least, plenty of people stole their music off the internet. That’s almost the same as buying it, right?

Well, no, it isn’t. But that’s why they make soundtracks. The only problem with official soundtrack albums is that they tend to include all kinds of other crap that was in the movie. You know, the score. In this, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is no exception.

The CD roughly divides into three parts: good rock songs which you should already have, pointless original music from the film, and, tantalisingly, a series of David Bowie covers, performed in Portuguese, by cast member Seu Jorge. The Seu Jorge songs are the only reason anyone should even consider buying this. Are they worth it?

Well, they’re definitely good covers. Covering a titan like Bowie is always dangerous, but Jorge rises to the task and manages to make the songs his own. True, he may have an unfair advantage over, say, The Polyphonic Spree, or like-minded idiots The Flaming Lips, since Jorge performs the songs in Portuguese. But the language change is only part of the story. Jorge also possesses a lovely, honest voice and he plays each song in a delightfully humble, intimate manner. Stripped of all glam rock bravado, the songs acquire a new life. Seu Jorge is to be congratulated for doing this, and congratulated once more for making it sound so effortless.

Of course, Jorge’s contributions aren’t the only good songs on The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, but if you don’t have “Gut Feeling” on CD, just buy Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!. The same goes for “Queen Bitch” and Hunky Dory or “Search and Destroy” and Raw Power. True, “30th Century Man” is a bit difficult to find, but there’s always a box set for that one, too. The only valid reason to buy this CD is to get the Seu Jorge tracks, and you should only do that if you really, really like them. Perhaps you should download them first?

Reviewed by: Ryan Hardy
Reviewed on: 2005-02-02
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