Film scores are intrinsically tied into your experience of a movie. They can help you subliminally decide by the end credits if you really take a film to heart or decide that it should’ve went straight to DVD. The task of adding the right music to a film is doubly daunting when it’s an adaptation of a literary classic, particularly one that a generation of adults grew up with. To jump this hurdle, director Spike Jonze took the unusual step of enlisting a rock star composer (and former flame) to soundtrack his latest project, the immortalising of Maurice Sendak’s iconic kid’s tale, Where The Wild Things Are in celluloid.
Darker than most kiddies yarns and famously vivid, the first spin enmeshes you into a world of howls, tribal chants and jungle beats and the soundtrack treads a fine line between reeling kids into the tale and appealing to adults. It doesn’t take long to establish that this is not an extended arm of YYY’s and is a far cry from the electro sass of It’s Blitz which is no bad thing. If any comparisons must be drawn, Where The Wild Things Are is cut from a similar cloth musically as -Maps’ in the poignancy stakes (-Hideaway’ or -Worried Shoes’).
Despite featuring a star studded personnel (The Kids) including Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner and Brian Chase, Dean Fertita (The Dead Weather), a children’s choir and Bradford Cox (Deerhunter), this is very much the art rocker’s baby. Boasting Karen O’s unique mix of breathy vocals, snarls and quirky melodies, she appears noticeably comfortable in her own skin, unleashed from the expectations of the band and the constraints of success.
Although a soundtrack, many of the songs are strong enough to stand alone – -Heads Up’ is a catchy, well-crafted singalong while the attitude-infused chant of -Capsize’ bears many Karen O trademarks. The most single-worthy track contained here is -Building All is Love’ where the vocalist is backed by a kids choir and it surprisingly works.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that this is a soundtrack and not a Karen O solo effort but the songs paint such a vivid portrait of what’s to come on the big screen that you’re quickly reminded of the movie at the heart of the project. More than anything, Where The Wild Things Are is a positive affirmation of Karen O’s growth as a performer in her own right and as a possible taster of what a future solo career might offer.