Various Artists

Passable in Pink [Official Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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The soundtrack to author Mike Sacks' satirical podcast production, 2019's Passable in Pink, plays like a compilation of lost college rock hits from the '80s. Conceived as a send-up of director John Hughes' iconic teen dramedies of the '80s, Passable in Pink tells what has been described as a "prom-com" story that wryly cribs from films like 16 Candles, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club, all while putting a humorous spin on the beloved, yet often outdated content from the original movies. In keeping with that spirit, Sacks conscripted indie rocker Mark Rozzo (Champale, Maplewood, and Bambi Kino) to write a similarly satirical "soundtrack" in the style of Hughes' films with songs by a slate of imagined artists and bands that could have appeared on his soundtracks; think alternate-reality versions of bands like the Psychedelic Furs, the Smiths, and the Replacements. Joining Rozzo are several longtime associates including Dennis Diken (Smithereens), Lee Wall (Luna), Doug Gillard (Guided by Voices), Joe McGinty (Psychedelic Furs), and others, who help bring an authenticity to the material. Each track is also accompanied by an artist backstory and song bio that lends yet more eye-winking fun to the proceedings. The opening "Here Comes That Heartbreak" sounds like a mix of the Psychedelic Furs and Joy Division, while "Into the Pink" evinces the bubbly new wave of bands like Haircut 100 and Modern English. Similarly evocative, the stripped-down acoustic balladry of "Empty House" deftly captures the yearningly lo-fi aesthetic of the Smiths' real-life John Peel Sessions that it takes inspiration from. Elsewhere, Rozzo offers several instrumental electronic tracks like "Addy's Break" and "Yeah Right" that bring to mind the clubbier end of '80s pop music. Part of the fun of Passable in Pink is trying to guess which real-life song or band Rozzo is referencing here, and some tracks are more successful than others. In that sense, the album brings to mind Adam Schlesinger's similarly satirical, '80s-themed soundtrack to 2007's Music and Lyrics. While none of the tracks on Passable in Pink are likely to achieve the iconic cult status bestowed upon many of the songs John Hughes used in his films, they do manage to make you smile by capturing the anthemic energy and underground rock idiosyncrasies of the original tracks.

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