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Blue Valentine by Grizzly Bear (Review)

posted Feb 1, 2011, 11:54 PM by Kaya Savas

Looks like a lot of bands are jumping on the score train as of late, and keeping up with the trend is Grizzly Bear as the band does the music for the film Blue Valentine. Now this is a tough soundtrack to categorize. While the band did compose a selection of instrumental pieces their focus is mainly songs. I'm all for songs as long as they are original for the film, which they are. Alexi Murdoch surprised the hell out of me by doing the best song based score I've ever heard for Away We Go. In this instance though the overall result is really refreshing even if it lacks some cohesiveness.

The musical tone of the entire soundscape has a punk feel to it that evokes images of cityscapes and sidewalks. It has a very indie/urban feel to it and that mood is fantastic. The music is atmospheric but not ambient. It creates a certain energy that cannot be denied. I love that the instrumental pieces don't feel like they are structured to be songs like the second half of the album. While the score pieces aren't structured like songs they aren't structured like score either.

The pieces are definitely meant to be mood setting pieces of music. The music evokes certain states of mind, and while that is very interesting as a listening experience I don't think it succeeds as a score. There aren't any arcs and there is a giant void of character and sense of progression. And when I say character I don't mean the music has no character I mean that I don't feel the characters of the story come through the music.

This is a very original and fresh approach to scoring a film. I love the moods and atmospheres the music creates. However for me the score felt void of structured storytelling, and for me I need that for a score to be a score. I've heard ambient and atmospheric scores that still told a story, but for some reason that didn't come across to me here. It's definitely worth listening to though.