"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack"
Various Artists, (Summit Entertainment/Chop Shop/Atlantic Records)
It's a sad goodbye from "The Twilight Saga," which sees its last installment, "Breaking Dawn — Part 2," hit the big screen this week. The soundtrack reflects a chocked up melancholia that lingers over the sound like dust over old boxes of family photos.
This final film steps away from the romantic dilemmas of previous outings into a tense confrontation between vampire factions. Yet the album is more focused on delivering a soulful sound that is neither too arcane, nor too mainstream. It's just quirky enough to be embraced by the hordes of teenagers who've grown up alongside Bella and Edward.
Nikki Reed, who plays Rosalie Hale in the film, makes an appearance on the instrument-stripped piano ballad "All I've Ever Needed," alongside her husband and former "American Idol" contestant Paul McDonald. Green Day, the biggest act on the soundtrack, is bland on "Forgotten."
And the rest of the songs alternate between diaphanous guitars like POP ETC's "Speak Up" or dreamy tunes like Feist's "Fire in the Water" and James Vincent McMorrow's "Ghosts." There's also haunting strings, like on "New for You" by Reeve Carney, best known for playing the lead in Broadway's "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."
It's all a bit wailing, like a highly enjoyable mourning parade that performs at its own death.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: Ellie Goulding gives the album a touch of playfulness with her energetic "Bittersweet."
Lana Del Rey, (Interscope Records)
Lana Del Rey's new eight-track EP "Paradise" shows the singer is still in the same emotional flux she was when she released her debut album 10 months ago. She's lamenting the pains of love.
Del Rey has an almost affected vulnerability in her voice, at certain points its quivering adds to the gravitas of the lyrics, like when she sings "Don't turn around, leave me high and dry" on the Rick Rubin-produced first single, "Ride." The song was co-written by Justin Parker, who helmed most of her debut, "Born to Die," along with Emile Haynie. "Ride" is as perfect as "Video Games," the single that propelled her into the limelight.
"American" uses simple strings and piano which allows her smoky, effortless vocals to take control. "Cola" continues the Americana theme, but in a playful, tongue-in-cheek way. And "Body Electric" sounds like it's straight from a Western film, where Del Rey is again playfully poking fun at America — "Elvis is my daddy, Marilyn's my mother," she claims.
The 26-year-old's entrancing vocals make it almost hypnotic to listen to anything she sings, but that's not always the case: "Bel Air" and "Yayo" are just fillers.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: Del Rey's sings the 1950s classic "Blue Velvet" as if it was written for her.
"Take Me Home"
One Direction, (Syco/Columbia Records)
One Direction's sophomore album, "Take Me Home," comes one year after the group released its debut, "Up All Night," in the United Kingdom. The latter came out in America just eight months ago, has already sold 1.3 million units and is still in the Top 25.
The wholesome-looking quintet has joined Justin Bieber in the affections of girls everywhere, with their puppy eyes, trendy haircuts and rather good voices. And the boy band's new album delivers on the brief, vaguely catchy songs that appeal to both the romantic and the wild side of teenage girls.
The record relies heavily on perky and melancholic guitars, and on romantic invitations like "I want to be your last first kiss" on "Last First Kiss," which then veer into the leery "Tonight let's get some" on the very honest and upbeat first single, "Live While We're Young." It's full of riffs that haven't been heard since the 1990s boy bands took their final bows.
"Take Me Home" is mainly produced by the same folks behind the group's debut, including Rami Yacoub, Carl Falk and Savan Kotecha. English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran returns, too, co-writing two ballads ("Little Things," "Over Again") that break up the overall upbeat preppiness of the disc with memorable choruses.
The album feels relentless in rhythm, sometimes even during the ballads, with a homogenous sound and message — like a teenage boy who says all the right words in a rush to get what he wants. But this time they're only singing the right words to get to your wallets and adoration. And they're most likely going to get it.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: "Over Again" will be played over and over again by the lovelorn.