Jon Brion - ParaNorman Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Record Label: Relativity Music Group
Release Date: Aug. 14, 2012
Jon Brion doesn't really need an introduction. If his name is new to you, you're probably just not paying attention. After all the producer wunderkind has attached his name to projects by the likes of Elliott Smith, Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright, Aimee Mann, The Crystal Method, Kanye West and Spoon to name just a few. As a composer, he's scored the films Magnolia; Punch Drunk Love; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; I <3 Huckabees; and Synecdoch, New York, among others.
Enter his latest film score. The LAIKA stop-motion animated film ParaNorman. The plot revolves around a small New England town that falls siege to the undead. There's a bevy of ghosts, zombies, witches and ghouls in the film and the soundtrack does a deft job of laying that foundation. Brion sets the tone immediately with "Zombie Attack in the Eighties," an urgent affair replete with synths, snares and ample amounts of suspense. The score's main title is "Norman at the Piano," a stark and bare-bones foray into placid piano atmospherics. The autumnal "Norman's Walk," feels the most like a pop song while "Enter Neil, Mr. P, Ghost Walk, Ghost Dog," has the immediacy and tempo of a ballet.
But the soundtrack's best moments are in the latter half, the 8-minute "Zombies Attack," begins tranquil and subdued before segueing into a full-scale swirl of woodwinds and strings. Its successor "People Attack," is a 15-minute juggernaut that ties up all the emotions of the film into one big blanket statement. In "People Attack," there's a definitive sense of hope, despair, fright, indecision and renewal. The only problem with "People Attack," is by the time its finished, the listener is left spent. Alas, Brion still has the electronic-inspired "Aggie Fights," the twinkling "Resolution," and the sonorous "Oh And One More Thing," the latter of which is arguably the score's best composition.
And therein lies the problem. While its abundantly evident that Brion had a whale of fun making the soundtrack, the entire thing feels exhausting and overwhelming. Being that ParaNorman is a light and breezy foray into comedy and zombie hysteria, the soundtrack itself feels as far from light and breezy as possible. Brion himself is no stranger to light and breezy as he has crafted the score for the comedies "Step Brothers," and "Other Guys."
In the end, ParaNorman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is going to strike a chord with those that love Brion's work with Synecdoche, New York and Miranda July's The Future. These are grand, sweeping compositions with histrionic heights, armfuls of emotion and enough tempo changes to make one dizzy. In short, while it may feel superfluous and tacked on at times, ParaNorman is a solid score and another notch on the proverbial belt of one of pop music's most ingenious minds.
[fs-Recommended If You Like] Synecdoche, New York soundtrack; James Newton Howard; Tim Burton [/fs]