Arcade Fire & Owen Pallett
Her (Original Score)
Eight years after the release of Spike Jones hit film Her, the Academy Award-nominated soundtrack will finally see a release on vinyl, cassette, and digital formats. It was previously only available digitally for a short time in 2014 before being taken down and fans of the score have been hoping for a proper release since.
Pallett is a long-time collaborator with Arcade Fire is this is yet another success in their work together. Opening with “Sleepwalker”, we’re greeted with sombre drums and keys. It’s a song that sets a tone for the soundtrack. “Milk & Honey #1” acts as a short interlude that breaks away from the general sound of the record with electronic sounds that have a shimmering “Kid A” kind of quality before the album continues with the minimal “Loneliness #3 (Night Talking)”. The song has a particular melancholic atmosphere that is the perfect accompaniment to Joaquin Phoenix’s character in the film. Many of the other tracks on the album share this feeling such as “Divorce Papers”, “Loneliness #4”, “Owl” and “We’re All Leaving”. In contrast “Morning Talk / Supersymmetry” starts quietly but eventually crescendos into spacey sounding arpeggiating synths before fading out again while “Photograph” is a slightly more upbeat piano piece. These moments that deviate from the majority of the tracks are well placed and not jarring at all in the overall flow of the record. Finally, the album ends with the beautiful strings of “Dimensions”.
Even though Arcade Fire hasn’t released a new album since 2017s Everything Now, the timing of the release of Her is no mere stopgap for fans while they wait for a new album. Quite the contrary, this record is a towering achievement for the group along with Pallett and some of the most beautiful and moving music in their respective catalogues. It works not only as a great accompaniment to the film but also as a great album in its own right. Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler recently stated when talking about this work that “there is a mysterious alchemy in the way sound and picture work together, notes and moods shifting and reacting to one another like a kaleidoscope, even in the absence of visuals, the emotional landscape still remains.” Well, you can tell that visuals and story were probably inspiring to him in his work on this album but the film itself probably wouldn’t have had nearly the impact it did without this soundtrack. It truly conjured up many emotions as I listened to it over and over to write this review. Highly recommended.