Home > Bargain > Various Artists – Shortbus soundtrack

Various Artists – Shortbus soundtrack

Team Love Records, 2006

This is one of those movies that I have had a casual interest in seeing, but since the significant other has already seen it, how does one spin it so that it can be rented again?  “Hey babe, ah, you know … you know that movie you saw?  The one with lots of sex and emotional relationships .. yes, yes, the nudity, yes … well, so … I dunno, how about we rent that one since I haven’t seen it?”  She’s an understanding one, but I doubt that we’ll be getting this one anytime soon, especially since “Calendar Girls” and “Boys On the Side” are very high in our her queue.  Well, dammit, if I’m not going to see the movie soon then at least I can listen to the soundtrack!  HA!

The movie is about a sex club called “Shortbus” where people are allowed to be sexually free beings.  There are emotions, conversations, and relationship challenges … and some of that sex stuff, okay.  But regardless, since this is sort of a serious movie (or a movie that takes itself seriously), the soundtrack is obviously going to contain some of the more lighter fare.  This music provides quirky, sometimes upbeat background music to whatever is going on in the film.  Without having seen the film, I can’t tell you if certain music is during a truly graphic scene or if it’s of someone walking down the street, so I’ll just talk about the music itself.

Scott Matthew starts the soundtrack off with a kind of Magnetic Fields-sounding ukulele tune which includes vocals that sound utterly forlorn.  If that sounds like a great listen to you, then you’re in luck, for he shows up five more times on the soundtrack with varying degrees of pained singing.  While tunes of well known bands like Yo La Tengo and Animal Collective appear here, songs that really stood out are the upbeat “Beautiful” by Lee and Leblanc, the busily paced “It’s Not Safe” by Gentleman Reg, and the sensual dance groovin’ “This House” by Jasper James and the Jetset.  Considering that many of the songs on the soundtrack are solo efforts with varying degrees of emotion, these few tunes particularly stood out as songs that could stand on their own without the soundtrack.

One of the softer songs that worked for me was “Boys of Melody” by the Hidden Cameras, which despite having violins and plinking piano, didn’t sound forcibly trite.  Yeah, I imagine this was a getting busy song somewhere in the movie.  If I were to guess a few more movie scenes based on the songs, John LaMonica’s wretchedly quivering “Kids” must also be during a sex scene.  I say “wretchedly” because he has that voice that so typifies a forcibly fragile male singer along the lines of Iron and Wine … which I can’t stand.  But yes, sex scene.  The Ark’s excellent party tune “This Piece of Poetry Is Meant to Do Harm” seems dead on as a background track for a sexually free dance scene at the Shortbus club.  Finally, Justin Bond and the Hungry March Band’s eight minute epic “In the End” is clearly the last scene heading into the credits.  Bond’s ragged drag queen voice has the wilting nature that sounds like something is about to end, likely with characters in slow motion and looking at each other as a conclusion.  (By the way, I looked this up later and ho ho, I was spot on.  I should be a soundtrack director!  What am I doing writing blog posts, man?!)

Since he shows up frequently on the soundtrack, I figure a link to Scott Matthew’s MySpace page would help one get the gist of what they’ll mostly hear on this soundtrack.  Have a listen!

As a soundtrack, “Shortbus” is a pretty good listen from beginning to end.  There’s nothing that sounds outright terrible and a few songs are strong enough on their own to garner a repeat listen.  Perhaps it’s the low key sound that permeates throughout that makes the soundtrack inoffensive by definition, so I suppose one really couldn’t complain about much except for the safe choices.  I suppose that’s only fair, though, since I’ve heard the movie more than makes up for the lack of punch from the soundtrack.  Speaking of which, “Shortbus” is now on its way to my house.  Woah, hey, I wonder how that happened …

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