Soundtrack Review: GREENBERG

Allison Loring

by: Allison Loring
March 25th, 2010

Rating: 6.5/10

Quirky and up-beat, the soundtrack for GREENBERG mirrors the feel of what the film looks to deliver. James Murphy, best known for his musical project, LCD Soundsystem, makes his debut as a film composer here, contributing the majority of the soundtrack’s 18 tracks. The collection also includes a handful of songs from other artists, including a track attributed to the Soundsystem only (naturally).

Unlike most "scores," Murphy gives us lyrics and different instrumentation on each selection. Murphy’s pieces play like items in a fashion designer's show. All the pieces clearly relate to one another, but vary enough to make each interesting on their own. If you ever longed for a James Murphy solo effort, you can get a pretty good taste here. Murphy succeeds in molding his sound to work seamlessly with the other artists he shares space with here.

Murphy’s first track, "People," is restrained and almost feels like Murphy wants to belt out the chorus, but holds himself back whereas “Photographs” is still mellow, but more of a full-bodied track. I particularly loved the lyrics in “Photographs,” as they subtlety refer to what it is like to look through those captured moments in time. And, being a true piano geek at heart, I LOVED that we also get an all piano instrumentation of this track. Even without the lyrics, it grabbed my attention.

We get a different spin with “Gente," one of the album's more up-beat pieces, sounding almost like something you would hear at a salsa club with its Latin style guitar and frenetic clapping. Continuing the idea of clapping to bring a beat, “If You Need A Friend” will get your toes tapping and the catchy lyrics will quickly have you singing along.

Murphy’s all-instrumental pieces play a little more on the idea of themes and slightly off-beat sounds. “Sleepy Baby” is dreamlike, just as the title suggests, and “Thumbs," clocking in at just 1:00, has an off-kilter sound that eventually drifts off into nothingness.

Along with Murphy’s new material, we also get a new track from LCD Soundsystem, with “Oh You (Christmas Blues)." Hearing this side of Murphy in comparison to him sans the System goes to show how far his range and talent truly stretch.

Joining Murphy’s tracks are songs from artists such as the Steve Miller Band with the classic “Jet Airliner” and The Sonics’ “Shot Down." Nite Jewel’s “Suburbia” plays almost like a scored piece, with no real lyrics, just melodic humming, echoes and tones and Duran Duran deliver their haunting electronic sound with “The Chauffeur."

I enjoyed this soundtrack and was impressed by the unconventional “score” Murphy turned in. From what I’ve seen from the trailer and heard about this film, the music definitely gives the “little boy lost in LaLa land” vibe and has me looking forward to seeing how they play on screen.

This soundtrack is available through DFA Records.

1. “Jet Airliner” – Steve Miller Band
2. “People” – James Murphy
3. “Suburbia” – Nite Jewel
4. “Sleep Baby” – James Murphy
5. “Thumbs” – James Murphy
6. “It Never Rains In Southern California” – Albert Hammond
7. “Plenty Of Time” – James Murphy
8. “Photographs” – James Murphy
9. “Gente” – James Murphy
10. “Strange” – Galaxie 500
11. “Oh You (Christmas Blues)” – LCD Soundsystem
12. “Birthday Song” – James Murphy
13. “Dear You” – James Murphy
14. “Shot Down” – The Sonics
15. “The Chauffeur” – Duran Duran
16. “If You Need A Friend” – James Murphy
17. “Please Don’t Follow Me” – James Murphy
18. “Photographs (Piano)” – James Murphy

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