American Pie: Music From The Motion Picture (Universal Records)
By: Alex Steininger
American Pie promises to be one of the hottest summer comedies. The topics of sex and virginity play a crucial role in the film, along with everyday teen cravings and desperation. So, movie executives are hoping that the youth of America flocks to this film. And adding a new dimension to the film (besides the comedy) is the music. The soundtrack has a good amount of top names in the modern rock world, so mainstream culture should have no problem accepting the film and its soundtrack.
Third Eye Blind and Tonic open the disc with two catchy, but lacking pop-rock numbers, before Blink 182 steals the show with "Mutt." In case you're not familiar with Blink 182, their pop-punk is all about being a horny, young white male in a teen world where sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll (read: fun!) is all life is about. Their often tongue-in-cheek, but very perceptive, take on teen politics is dead on because their teen years aren't that far behind them. Dan Wilson (of Semisonic) and Bic Runga team up on "Good Morning Baby," a surprisingly catchy, heartfelt pop number that brings everything home and stands out as one of the best on the album. The melodies are sharp; Dan and Bic's male-female vocal duet is beautiful, making you all tingly inside when you listen to it. The song helps add depth and a sense of realism to both the soundtrack and the movie (the song is too heartfelt and beautiful to be a joke, like the movie, so you're lead to believe their must be some down to earth moments on the film as well).
Bic Runga's "Sway" is another fine example of how amazingly talented she is. By far the strongest cut on the album (alongside her duet with Semisonic's Dan Wilson), Bic has a knack for writing touching, painfully beautiful pop songs chalk full of all the emotions and heartbreaks that make music so great. Her voice is dead on and the instrumentation is delicate yet full of sunshine. No matter how down and out she may seem, there is always hope beneath each note in the song.
The Loose Nuts add some ska-punk to the album with "Wishen," giving the album an outdated take on popular culture. Besides, if you're going to go with yesterday's fad, at least get a band good at it. The Loose Nuts just don't do that convincing of a ska-punk, so their track adds a weaker moment to the album. As does Goldfinger, a band once at the top of the ska-punk world, and whose second album (although it seemed to receive no attention) was one of the best pop-punk albums in the past few years. Their "Vintage Queen," a tiresome pop-punk ditty, just doesn't have the catchy hooks or the wisecracking attitude of their other material.
Dan Wilson and Bic Runga stand out with two beautiful tracks while Blink 182 and Shades Apart ("Stranger By The Day") add some nice sounds as well. The other bands have their moments, but nothing even comes close to the above mentioned four artists. I still want to see the movie though, it seems quite funny. But, the strongest material here is more serious than anything, which, until I see the movie, just doesn't seem to go with the subject line. I'll give this album a C-.