It might be an easy comparison to make, but the soundtrack to HBO's Six Feet Under bears a striking resemblance to the first volume of music released for American Beauty, screenwriter Alan Ball's other controversial and much-lauded success. Both soundtracks feature edgy-yet-emotive music from critically acclaimed artists, excerpts from expressive scores, and a few well-chosen oldies. But even more so than the American Beauty soundtrack, Six Feet Under feels painfully hip, relying more on flavor-of-the-month pop songs than on the show's own impressive background music. While Lamb's delicately spooky "Heaven" and Craig Armstrong's "Let's Go Out Tonight" fit Six Feet Under's sophisticated mix of wit and emotion, the show has never really made use of pop music in a prominent way, unlike The Sopranos, for example. Though PJ Harvey's ferociously sexy, messed-up "One Time Too Many" is used to excellent effect in the first episode of Six Feet Under's second season, it's hard to place most of the soundtrack's other cuts in the context of the show. At best, this results in pleasant surprises like the Dining Rooms' eerie "Pure & Easy" and Orlando Cachaito Lopez's sultry "Mis Dos Pequenas." But more often than not, songs like Shuggie Otis' "Inspiration Information" and the Dandy Warhols' "Bohemian Like You" -- which seems to appear in nearly as many soundtracks as Smash Mouth's "All Star" -- feel hopelessly miscast. Most of the vintage selections don't fare any better, either; Peggy Lee's "I Love Being Here With You," Classics IV's "Spooky," and Julie London's rendition of the Troggs' "Yummy Yummy Yummy" (not one of her career's highlights) feel like cheap attempts at irony. Ultimately, Six Feet Under's best and most appropriate piece is Thomas Newman's title theme; its uptight, whimsical, yet undeniably dramatic vibe captures the show's appeal better than anything else on the soundtrack, including the unimpressive remixes of the theme by Rae & Christian and Photek. As with American Beauty, die-hard fans of Six Feet Under's music will have to wait for a separate album of Newman and Richard Marvin's compositions. Though this soundtrack is by no means a bad album, it nevertheless sells the show and its music somewhat short.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares