Album: American Beauty: Music from the Motion Picture

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Album:

American Beauty: Music from the Motion Picture

Artist: Thomas Newman, Various Artists
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Label: Dreamworks

What’s the soundtrack for suburbia gone awry? Perhaps it’s American Beauty—the music for the dark Sam Mendes-directed flick starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening. With its mix of classic and indie rock, the disc seems to reflect something for everyone (or at least those found in middle America). Bobby Darin’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is the epitome of unhip, Free’s “All Right Now” is a classic rock anthem we’ve heard way too many times, and Peggy Lee’s “Bali Ha’i” is vintage exotica at its best. But then there are some surprises: Elliott Smith’s…

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What’s the soundtrack for suburbia gone awry? Perhaps it’s American Beauty—the music for the dark Sam Mendes-directed flick starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening. With its mix of classic and indie rock, the disc seems to reflect something for everyone (or at least those found in middle America). Bobby Darin’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is the epitome of unhip, Free’s “All Right Now” is a classic rock anthem we’ve heard way too many times, and Peggy Lee’s “Bali Ha’i” is vintage exotica at its best. But then there are some surprises: Elliott Smith’s harmonizing “Because” is pure Brian Wilson, Folk Implosion’s “Free to Go” is one of the group’s best tracks, and Eels’ “Cancer for the Cure” is a gritty but infectious taste of alt-rock. Thomas Newman’s percussive “Dead Already” creates a tense mood to start things off. —Jason Verlinde

Related Works

Film:American Beauty

American Beauty

Sam Mendes

From its first gliding aerial shot of a generic suburban street, American Beauty moves with a mesmerizing confidence and acuity epitomized by Kevin Spacey’s calm narration. Spacey is Lester Burnham, a harried Everyman whose midlife awakening is the spine of the story, and his very first lines hook us with their teasing fatalism—like Sunset Boulevard’s Joe Gillis, Burnham tells us his story from beyond the grave.

It’s an audacious start for a film that justifies that audacity. Weaving social satire, domestic tragedy, and whodunit into a single…

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