Last month, the low-budget indie charmer Paper Heart made its way into theaters.Â Much like the film’s two leads (Michael Cera and Charlyne Yi) it’s easy to describe using simplistic words like “cute”, “sweet” or “endearing.” But it also had a little bit of an upbeat, though melancholy, personal feel to it, subtly tucked away behind the deadpan comedy and theÂ fake documentary vibe. The soundtrack (the majority of which was composed by Cera and Yi, with help from Alden Penner) has a similar feel to it, filled as it is with simple guitar and keyboard instrumentals.
“Paper Heart was always intended to be a very small, personal film and I felt the music should reflect that,” director Nick Jasenovec says in the liner notes of the soundtrack. If that’s the intention, then mission accomplished Mr. Jasenovec. From the whistling in the track “Hope” to the accordion in the giddy “Children are Ridiculous” to the love song “Magic Perfume” – performed by Yi in the film and on the soundtrack – this is an album of small, personal tracks, that wins over the audience with its heart rather than its budget and production value. Michael Cassady’s trumpet in “Sid & Mary Beth” provides a perfect example of the lovely simplicity of this music, giving a melodic and subtly-played undertone to the rest of the instruments in the track without distracting.
Though Cera and Yi have never scored a film before, both make out surprisingly well here. Much of their success may be due to the fact that they’re scoring their own performances along with the rest of the film, and that their own personal musical styles happen to already be similar. While their low-budget tracks might not fly on another soundtrack (without being sandwiched in between other music) this collection of music is a sweet (there’s that word again) reminder of how good a truly homemade soundtrack can sound. There’s nothing really groundbreaking here, but these actor/composers hit all the right notes for their own film and earn props for doing double duty on a passion project.
Zach’s Rating: B+
Perfect For: Playing alongside your own self-recorded guitar tracks
Stay Away if: You like production value more than individuality (I’m not judging – it’s a valid preference)