The best thing you can say about any movie's soundtrack is that it can stand on its own, and that no matter what you think of the movie, the soundtrack is chock full of amazing music.
And the soundtrack to "New Moon" is one of those -- apparently the people behind it have gone completely indie in their tastes. Whether you love or hate the teen-vampire-infatuation flick, it's undeniable that the soundtrack is bursting with brilliant bands -- angular rock'n'roll and lush echoing pop, some of it well-known (Muse, Thom Yorke) and some relative obscure (Grizzly Bear, Lykke Li).
"Meet me on the equinox/Meet me halfway/The sun is perched at its highest peak/In the middle of the day... " Ben Gibbard sings distantly as the gentle guitars swirl around him. A storm of drums builds up every time he laments that "everything, everything ends," as his pronouncements about an unknown lover become eerier and more surreal ("A window/An open tomb/The sun crawls across your bedroom/A halo/A waning moon/Your last breath moving through you").
There's a pretty good showing of solid rock'n'roll following Death Cab For Cutie's memorable introduction -- Band of Skulls provides the buzzing, blunt-edged rocker "Friends," Hurricane Bells erupts in a buzzing storm of fuzzy bass and sharp beats with "Monsters," and Sea Wolf's "The Violet Hour" is a swirling little pop-rocker that seems to trickle down the reverberating guitar.
Then there's Thom Yorke, whose buzzy-edged electronic "Hearing Damage" is a furtive, dark little rush of sinister beauty. And of course, Muse is included in the stomping, mournful rocker "I Belong To You (New Moon Remix)."
Some of these bands are also going unexpectedly low-key to suit the mood, even if they're usually much louder. The Killers turn out the dramatic layered lament of "A White Demon Love Song," while Black Rebel Motorcycle unfurl a twangy lo-fi ballad "Done All Wrong." OK GO abandon their usual sound in favor of the trippy psychedelic-edged "Shooting The Moon," and the Editors dip into a dramatic, hauntingly sad piano-rock sound with "No Sound But The Wind" ("Help me to carry the fire/it will light our way forever..."
But some brilliant indie pop also makes the cut. Lykke Li's "Possibility" is a shimmering, icy little melody, while Anya Marina sticks to acoustic guitar riddled with organ in the whispery "Satellite Heart." The absolute highlights of the album: Bon Iver and St. Vincent collaborate on the otherworldly, hymnlike "Roslyn," and Grizzly Bear's exquisite "Slow Life" is a slow haunting build to a celestial climax.
For the record, I'm not a fan of "New Moon" or Stephenie Meyers' Twilight series in general. But I felt a prickle go down my spine when I saw the songs listed for the soundtrack -- they've crammed it with one brilliant band after another, ranging from hard rock'n'roll to soft, sweet ballads. In fact, the only one that failed to move me was Alexandre Desplat's outro -- frankly, it was four minutes of boredom for me.
Otherwise, the playlist sets a wonderful mood -- think a mingling of bittersweet romanticism and outright melancholy, with lots of slowly winding piano, buzzing guitar, acoustics and ghostly veils of electronica and organ. The singers' voices range from dramatic laments (Matt Bellamy) to quirky murmurs (Anya Marina), and their lyrics tend to reflect two themes: loss ("How much pain has cracked your soul?/How much love would make you whole?") and love ("Even though you're only one I see/I've got to set you free...").
Even those who are not (and probably never will be) fans of the Twilight phenomenon should immerse themselves in the "New Moon Soundtrack." Taken on its own merits, it's still a haunting string of beautiful songs.