Danny Boyle, Andrew MacDonald and John Hodge's adaptation of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting was one of those rare films that captured the spirit and style of contemporary youth culture. That alone was a remarkable event, but what was even more surprising was how its accompanying soundtrack summarized the sounds of mid-'90s British alternative music. They couldn't hope to replicate that seminal event with the soundtrack for their subsequent romantic comedy, A Life Less Ordinary, and they don't, even though the album has plenty to recommend it on its own. Since the film is set in America, it is only appropriate that there are several American bands on the soundtrack (Trainspotting was almost entirely British), and several of the songs have a distinct country leaning. The first half of the record is stellar, featuring Beck's groovy, swinging "Deadweight," and Luscious Jackson's "Love Is Here," Ash's storming title track, R.E.M.'s re-recorded (and superior) "Leave," and Folk Implosion's "Kingdom of Lies," among others. The second half sags a bit, as a pair of oldies (Elvis Presley's "Always on My Mind," Bobby Darin's "Beyond the Sea"), and a couple of non-entities (Dusted's "Deeper River") hurt the momentum, but that doesn't distract from the pleasures of new tracks from the Cardigans, A3, Underworld, and the Prodigy. In the end, A Life Less Ordinary isn't as consistently engaging as Trainspotting, but it doesn't really matter, since this soundtrack offers more thrills than average and has a distinctive, compelling mood of its own.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine