September 2, 2004

Test Spin: Garden State

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“You gotta hear this one song, it’ll change your life, I promise you” says Natalie Portman’s character to Zach Braff’s wounded alter-ego Andrew Largeman in this summer’s critically acclaimed and musically-inclined Garden State. It is a brave statement to make, but like Cameron Crowe before him, Zach Braff understands the importance of good music. Braff, who is the star of NBC’s comedy Scrubs, not only wrote, directed, and starred in Garden State, he also produced the movie’s noteworthy soundtrack, which includes songs from indie-favorites The Shins and Frou Frou to classics Simon & Garfunkel.

Garden State is soft and introspective, the trademarks of an emo-sensibility. It opens with Coldplay’s “Don’t Panic,” which was previously used in 2002’s Igby Goes Down, but to Braff’s credit, the remaining songs on the album are more originally conceived.

Each of the thirteen songs on Garden State are, if not life changing, at least a change of pace, producing a playlist of great alternatives to today’s mainstream hits. Songs like Zero-7’s “In the Waiting Line” and Thievery Corporation’s “Lebanese Blonde” recall the movie’s quirkiest moments, while others remain more even-keeled and mellow, such as Colin Hay’s “I Just Don’t Think I’ll ever Get Over You” and Bonnie Summerville’s “Winding Road.”

The real gem is Frou Frou’s “Let Go,” which is one of those great songs you can’t get out of your head and don’t want to. The Shins appear twice on the album, with the melodic “New Slang” and the more captivating “Caring is Creepy,” both from the band’s 2001 debut Oh, Inverted World. Iron and Wine’s rendition of “Such Great Heights,” is less interesting than the The Postal Service’s version but works well with the soundtrack.

Archived article by Logan Bromer
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer