A Love Story

Mixing a springy, tinkly, new-agey, atmospheric score by “This American Life” regular Bobby Johnston with a healthy dose of Gogol Bordello’s Russian punk fantasticism and a few other miscellaneous song tracks, the film soundtrack for the quirky Wristcutters: A Love Story plays out like a gypsy jukebox in an out-of-the-way pub.

Some of the tracks, such as Del Shannon’s “Cry Myself To Sleep,” Screaming Lord Stitch’s “She’s Fallen In Love With A Monster Man,” and Artie Shaw’s “Gloomy Sunday,” even have a scratchy little sincerity that only further solidifies the jukebox image. It’s not the songs alone that carry the album, though; it’s the intermingling of songs and score that move this collection along and gives it a greater mix of singularity and intrigue.

Interspersed throughout and providing the true backbone of the album, Johnston’s pieces are tiny and mesmerizing. The longest is just shy of two minutes, while the shortest (the opening “Miracles”) clocks in at only 17 seconds. But Johnston somehow manages to wield a lot of tone in his quick tracks, accomplishing in seconds what it sometimes takes composers minutes to express.

The fast-paced, off-kilter rock of Gogol Bordello on tracks like “Through the Roof ‘n’ Underground” and “Occurrence On The Border (Hopping On A Pogo-Gypsy Stick)” give the soundtrack a much needed dose of energy and unexpectedness. Lead singer Eugene Hutz’s effusive vocals and the band’s unflinchingly polka-funk backdrop does more than set this soundtrack apart from others (aside from Everything is Illuminated, obviously).

There are more than a few moments of touching sincerity. Johnston’s brief “Zia and Mikal” and the breathy “Love Song” from Mikal Portnoi Lazarey strike more than a few chords… pun intended? Maybe. Anyway, the quiet beauty of the Mushman instrumental “Brennan’s Theme” starts the end of the album along its surprisingly deep emotional wrap up, though it’s really Gram Parson’s soft vocals and guitar in “A Song For You” that adds the final touches.

Zach’s Rating: A-
Perfect For: A (mostly) quiet tour of emotional territory
Stay Away if: Gypsy rock and instrumentals don’t blend for you
Buy This on Itunes: “Through The Roof ‘n’ Underground” – Gogol Bordello

To purchase the soundtrack for Wristcutters: A Love Story, visit Amazon

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