The Royal Tenenbaums

The Royal Tenenbaums

Original Soundtrack


The Royal Tenenbaums is a great film, but it isn’t as good as director/producer/writer Wes Anderson’s earlier masterpiece, Rushmore. And, while the mod-leaning, bittersweet Rushmore soundtrack is one of the best that I’ve heard in years, the music accompanying The Royal Tenenbaums doesn’t possess the same kind of lustre — not that it doesn’t shine in other ways.

Mark Mothersbaugh, who frequently runs second in the Elfman-Mothersbaugh rivalry of former-frontmen-turned-omnipresent-scoring factories, really makes an impact on this record. His bizarrely frantic compositions punctuated the Rushmore disc; on this project, Anderson’s catelogue selections serve to punctuate Mothersbaugh’s beautiful creations. From the delightfully gentle “Look at That Old Grizzly Bear” and “Scrapping And Yelling” to the baroque-flavored “Mothersbaugh’s Canon” and the brief sitar exoticism of “Pagoda’s Theme,” the former forecaster of De-evolution’s combined works easily stand on their own. His best effort could also be the album’s — “Lindbergh Palace Hotel Suite,” combining classically-stern strings with a jazzily-driven bass and thundering drums, is light-years away from Mothersbaugh’s cutesy cartoon offerings.

Apart from the Clash classic “Police And Thieves” and The Ramones’ “Judy is a Punk,” The Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack contains music meant for a lazy, introspective Sunday afternoon. The late, forever-ethereal Nico has two songs included: the equally haunting “These Days” and the closer, “The Fairest of Seasons.” Her old friends The Velvet Underground — satisfying Anderson’s obsession with the turn-of-the-’70s — also make an appearance with the oft-emulated “Stephanie Says.” In the same vein, the minstrel musings of the also-departed Nick Drake (“Fly”), Elliot Smith-trying-to-channel-Drake (“Needle in the Hay”), and Emitt Rhodes’ echo of John Lennon (“Lullabye”) assists in making the listener’s eyelids feel very, very heavy. Even Bob Dylan’s obscure and breezy “Wigwam” has a post-fiesta siesta quality to it. Providing the sendoff to crackling-fireplace dreamland is the immortal genius of Vince Guaraldi (“Christmas Time is Here”).

The true test of a soundtrack, naturally, is how it complements a film — and anyone who’s seen The Royal Tenenbaums would agree that it does the job wonderfully. However, removed from its accompanying visual stimulation, this disc requires a comfy pillow in order to fully appreciate it.

Hollywood Records:

Hollywood Records:

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