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Soundtrack Review: Cars 2

July 7, 2011

By Erin V.

First off, I’ll make a quick mention of the songs included on here (since they appear first in the track listing).  The five included play to the range of locales visited in the film.  The three written for the film (tracks 2, 3, & 4) are all really good, although it is Collision of Worlds and Nobody’s Fool that stood out to me when I heard them over the credits of the film.  Listening to the third piece again though – Mon Coeur Fait Vroum with lyrics co-written and music by Michael Giacchino – I enjoyed it more and it completes the nice trifecta of new songs for the film.

Next, as always, I like to talk about the score section of the soundtrack.  When reviewing a score like this, it is always essential to note that the soundtrack does have a lot less music than is heard in the actual film (this is a common occurrence on soundtracks unless they are strict score albums), so judging the music in the actual film is a must.  Hearing it again where I can concentrate solely on the music I found that although this might not be composer Michael Giacchino’s best score (relatively), it’s still a great addition and a ton of fun.

Although the whole score is fun, I found on first listen many of the later tracks pick up more than the earlier ones, and have a lot more built onto them.  It does feel like a natural progression though.  Plus, on the CD, some of the earlier tracks are relatively short.  Save for the longer track 7, the first score tracks mainly just serve to introduce the themes.  It’s really starting in tracks 10-12, that Giacchino takes it up to the next level and comes into his own doing what he does best – a juxtaposition of two themes on top of each other.  And throughout, we explicitly hear his love of keychanges to keep the suspense going.

As we get into the music for the film’s act three, there are elements of the carefully built suspense to The Incredibles – not so much tonally (that score was more jazzy) than with background ostinato, stop and start, fast and slow, and the occasional use of trills.  I found the call and answer between instruments (as is evident in track 7) to sound like classic Giacchino style.  I actually heard the second time through, direct elements of Up, and Ratatouille in particular, as well.  Definitely listen through to the end to get the full power of the soundtrack.  It’s like a good film – the elements from earlier on are built upon to the climax towards the end.

Simply put, on first listen, certain tracks may feel a bit slow starting, but once you know where the score is heading, it can be enjoyed more fully from start to finish.  On second listen, I really appreciated the fullness of the score.  One thing I must add, the surf rock spy theme really grows on you as it gets its ample use in several instances throughout the score.  There is a coolness to this soundtrack that, I found, was evident quite clearly in the film as well.  As I’ve heard it in its entirety three times now, I can safely say that I think this is a soundtrack that I appreciate more with each consecutive listen.

Just a quick footnote: the physical CD release (finally for a Pixar film again) comes with bonus content that can be accessed when you insert the disc into your computer.  This includes images, trailers/music videos, as well as a short survey that you can answer about the soundtrack itself.  The package cover as well as disc image are nice, and the little insert-booklet includes the words to the first four songs.

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The Cars 2 soundtrack was released on iTunes and in stores June 14th, 2011.

The soundtrack has 26 tracks and runs for 1 hour, 3 minutes, 22 seconds.  The original score is composed by Michael Giacchino.

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