Jonny Greenwood

Inherent Vice [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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AllMusic Review by

More melodic and accessible than his previous collaborations with director Paul Thomas Anderson, Jonny Greenwood's music for the film adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel Inherent Vice reaffirms that he is a versatile composer as well as a visionary one. Pynchon's tale, which follows a Los Angeles detective as he investigates the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend in 1970, is considerably more lighthearted than either There Will Be Blood or The Master, and Greenwood's music reflects mid-century L.A.'s seedy underbelly as well as the novel's intricate blend of intrigue, humor, and philosophy. Greenwood introduces Inherent Vice's major theme, "Shasta," with strings and woodwinds that cast an air of shadowy longing that grows into a sweeping mirage on "Shasta Fay" and condenses into a poignant, piercing melody that recalls the emotional intensity of a silent film score on "Shasta Fay Hepworth." Elsewhere, he expands on the story's mystery with the Bernard Herrmann-esque "The Chryskylodon Institute" and "The Golden Fang," which also nod to the density and complexity of his own score for The Master. However, reflecting Inherent Vice's setting, Greenwood's cues share the spotlight with more pop songs than ever before. They're artfully chosen and blended with the score, offering new perspectives on each. The charming kitsch of the Marketts' "Here Comes the Ho-Dads," Les Baxter's "Simba," and Kyu Sakamoto's "Sukiyaki" provides relief and contrast from the tense ambiguity of Greenwood's music, while the exquisite mix of rawness and finesse in Can's "Vitamin C" adds to the suspense. Like the novel the film was based on, Inherent Vice's songs share intriguing connections. "Spooks" was originally an unfinished Radiohead song before Greenwood fleshed it out with contributions from Supergrass' Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey and Joanna Newsom's narration; later, Minnie Riperton's "Fleur" feels like a precursor to Newsom's own bohemian style. The soundtrack's bittersweet undercurrents come to the fore with Neil Young's wry "Journey Through the Past" and Chuck Jackson's brilliant "Any Day Now," ensuring that things never get too cerebral. In its own way, Inherent Vice is as subtly and carefully crafted as Greenwood's other scores for Anderson's films, but its wit and heart make it special in its own right.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:39 Amazon
2
feat: Can
3:31
3 1:26 Amazon
4
feat: The Marketts
2:10
5 2:35 Amazon
6 7:01 Amazon
7 3:16
8 3:05 Amazon
9
feat: Kyu Sakamoto
3:07
10 2:51 Amazon
11
feat: Neil Young
2:22
12
feat: Les Baxter
2:42
13 1:56 Amazon
14 4:50 Amazon
15 2:05 Amazon
16 5:45 Amazon
17 3:24
blue highlight denotes track pick