Trainspotting concerns the adventures of a group of young, nearly criminal, drug-addicted Scottish friends. The novel, written by Irvine Welsh, became one of the most popular books in the British indie scene in the early '90s and was adapted to film in 1996 by the makers of Shallow Grave. Appropriately, an all-star collection of British pop and techno stars -- everyone from Blur, Pulp, and Elastica to Leftfield, Primal Scream, and Underworld -- contributed to the soundtrack, which also features a couple of oldies by veteran punk godfathers like Lou Reed ("Perfect Day") and Iggy Pop ("Lust for Life," "Nightclubbing"). The entire soundtrack holds together surprisingly well, as the techno tracks balance with the pop singles. Every song, whether it's Pulp's deceptively bouncy "Mile End" or Brian Eno's lush "Deep Blue Day," is quite melancholy, creating an effectively bleak, but oddly romantic, atmosphere for the entire record. With the exception of the oldies, every song is rare or especially recorded for the soundtrack, and nearly every one is superb. Primal Scream's title track sees them returning to the dub/dance experiments of Screamadelica with grace, while Damon Albarn's first solo song, "Closet Romantic," is as good as any of Blur's waltzes. But the finest new song is Pulp's "Mile End," with its jaunty, neo-dancehall melody and rhythms and Jarvis Cocker's evocative, haunting lyrics. That song, more than anything else on the soundtrack, captures the feeling of the film.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine