Adventureland soundtrack CD review

We don't get the film over here till July, but we've still been giving the Adventureland soundtrack a spin...

Adventureland is Greg Mottola’s (Superbad) latest which is set in 1987 and finds James, the protagonist, facing the realisation that he can’t afford his post college trip around Europe and as a result takes a dead end job at a local amusement park (Adventureland – hence the title). Dreading the prospect of what he expects will be the worst summer of his life, it turns out to be one of the best times of his life as he makes new friends and falls in love. Whilst the subject matter is hardly groundbreaking, the sound of the movie appeals to me – after all, who doesn’t like a good coming of age story? Superbad was hardly a masterpiece but it did have its moments, so if Mottola can build from there, Adventureland should be worth a watch.

The soundtrack to accompany the movie arrives here in advance of its release. Tracks 1-12 form the main section of the soundtrack, as they’re either songs from around, or released before, the time the movie was set. Track 13 is an instrumental, titled Farewell Adventureland, provided by US Indie heroes Yo La Tengo, is a delicate and somewhat unexciting number which I can only guess serves as incidental music that plays a part in various scenes in the movie. Track 14 is the Adventureland Theme Song by Brian Kenney – which is decent enough, but at 33 seconds in length, doesn’t really add much to the soundtrack.

Now that the two tracks tagged on at the end have been addressed, onto the main section of the soundtrack.

The soundtrack opens with tracks by two of the music industry’s most respected artists – Lou Reed and David Bowie – and they provide a strong opening. Lou Reed’s Satellite Of Love is one of the his strongest offerings from his long career. Another highlight of his career, this time a Velvet Underground song, the beautiful Pale Blue Eyes is the final song that’s from around, or released before, 1987. These two offerings by Reed bookmark the main section of the soundtrack to great affect.

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The soundtrack features a decent mixture of songs: 80s hits such as Bowie’s Modern Love, The Cure’s Just Like Heaven, Outfield’s Your Love, Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus, INXS’ Don’t Change and Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over, 80s alternative, Husker Du’s Don’t Wanna Know If You Are Lonely and The Replacements’ Unsatisfied.

The gem hidden amongst the familiar track is Big Stars’ I’m In Love With A Girl, which is a simple love song that has a timeless feel to it. I was shocked to see that it was originally released in 1974.

The highlights on the album are The Replacements – Paul Westerberg’s voice elevates the emotion of the song about being frustrated at the state of a relationship – New York Dolls, and Husker Du.  

Having not seen Adventureland yet, I can’t comment on how well these songs work in the context of the movie. What I can say, though, is that this CD has the feel of a really great mixtape as opposed to a movie soundtrack, which is refreshing, as not a lot of soundtracks I’ve purchased in the past achieved that. Despite including a lot of great tracks, they’ve lacked any sense of order and the songs have rarely complimented each other; there’s no such complaint here.

On the numerous times I’ve listened to the CD, I’ve yet to skip a track, which surprised me, as there are a few artists I’m not overly familiar with, or keen on. This is testament to the quality of tracks included and the way in which they’ve been arranged to compliment each other. It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into this soundtrack to make it feel like a mixtape, that captures the feelings and memmories of a period in someone’s life, and I’d recommend picking it up. If the movie’s anywhere near as good as the soundtrack, we’ll be in for a treat when it’s released over here in July.

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4 out of 5