As any hipster worth his or herÂ vintage clothingÂ knows, Juno is the indie smash film of the season, slowly climbing the box office charts each weekend and sparking Oscar whispers along the way. While the film itself is a veritable masterpiece of comedy and sentiment, the soundtrack – a mix of Kimya Dawson tracks and other similarly light fare – manages to capture bothÂ the post-cool vibes of the film and the deeper emotional rivers running softly below the surface.
In the liner notes, director Jason Reitman recalls asking star Ellen Page what kind of music she thought her characterÂ (Juno) would listen to. “Without pause, she blurted out ‘The Moldy Peaches’ and within seconds she was downloading songs on my computer.” Reitman liked the first track he heardÂ (“Anyone But You”), and immediately tossed in the idea of the Michael Cera / Ellen Page duet of the song that ends the movie. Contacting Moldy Peaches co-creator Kimya Dawson, Reitman felt he had successfullyÂ found the appropriate musicalÂ backdrop for his soundtrack. In much the same way that Diablo Cody’s screenplay guides the tone of theÂ film, Kimya Dawson’s lyrics and guitarÂ drive the tone of the soundtrack.
Starting with the Barry Louis Polisar credit-opener “All I want Is You,” even listeners who haven’t seen the filmÂ will immediately feel the soft yet off-kilter groove that Juno rolls with. “If you were a wink, I’d be a nod / If you were a seed, well I’d be a pod. / If you were the floor, I’d wanna be the rug / And if you were a kiss, I know I’d be a hug.” croons the light-hearted children’s singer, reaching the edge of enjoyable simplicity and perfectly expressing true love, both young and old.
Though Kimya Dawson’s tunes are sprinkled throughoutÂ the album (including the mostly instrumental “My Rollercoaster” and “Sleep”), there’s still an ample sampling of other artists, including familiar names likeÂ Buddy Holly, Cat Power, The Kinks,Â Sonic Youth, Belle & Sebastian and The VelvetÂ Underground (featuring Lou Reed in a rare romantic moment in “I’m Sticking With You”). Though this group of artists might not seemÂ immediately similar, it’s clear that these tracks have been carefully hand-selectedÂ for a very specific sound… though this sound is difficult to qualify. Perhaps “guitar-driven, low budget, soft punk”?
Regardless of the specific genre that this album can (or can’t) be labelled with, it’s an expertly crafted and agreeable sound that is sure to draw in listeners of all types. Those looking forÂ a soundtrack to capture a film’s meaning as full as Zach Braff’s Garden State soundtrack did a few years ago need look no further: producers Jason Reitman, Peter Afterman, and Margaret Yen have successfully summed up the sensitivity and heart of Juno itself.
As Adam Green and Kimya Dawson display their hipness on their sleeves with lyrics like “Up up down down left right left right B A start / Just because we use cheats doesn’t mean we’re not smart” in “Anyone Else But You”Â listeners can’t help but be drawn in to the genuinely sweetÂ sentiments of the soundtrack and the film alike. Michael Cera and Ellen Page’s duet of the song at the end onlyÂ serves toÂ beautifully put the icing on the cake of an already perfectly executed soundtrack.
Zach’s Rating: A
Perfect For: The old school/new school hipster music fan
Stay Away if: The indie music scene’s guitar riffs don’t do it for you