The fact that John Niven's Kill Your Friends was set in 1997 bodes ill for the soundtrack. The book purported to be set at the height of Britpop, but the scene’s bubble had well and truly burst in a canon of cheques aimed squarely at the ‘Be Here Now’ stodge rockers by then. 1997 was the beginning of Britpop’s hangover, so you’d expect the soundtrack to be a plod through a bunch of Seahorses B-sides with The Verve’s ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ slapped all over every key plot twist.
Not so. In keeping with the murderous tone of the novel, the soundtrack focuses on the darker side of the alternative scene over several decades, and some are proclaiming it the best film soundtrack since Trainspotting. I wouldn’t go that far – it doesn’t capture the era with as much poise and panache as including Blur’s ‘Sing’, Pulp’s ‘Mile End’ and Elastica’s ‘2:1’ did, and there are few moments likely to be as iconic as Ewan McGregor sinking into a carpet in a smack reverie to Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ or fleeing the rozzers to Iggy’s ‘Lust For Life’.
Yet Kill Your Friends contains evocative masterstrokes that places it amongst the finest rock flick soundtracks in history. To open with Blur’s dank, obsessive love song to heroin ‘Beetlebum’, for instance, captures the scene’s slip towards self-destruction perfectly. There’s a smart one-two of Gallagher – Noel’s visceral guest spot on The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Setting Sun’ rubs up to Liam’s anthem of excess ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’. Radiohead’s ‘Karma Police’ reflects the creeping paranoia of the drug-flooded ’90s music industry, while The Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ serves to illustrate, like the film, how the chirpy gaddaboutery of the age went hand-in-hand with a fair old wad of amoral indecency.
What’s more, Maxine Ashley’s cover of Sneaker Pimps’ ‘6 Underground’ adds to the narcotic haze and Ol’ Dirty Bastard brings a certain menace. In all, it sounds like a slow slide into post-Britpop derangement, exactly as the Kill Your Friends soundtrack should. But hang on – no ‘This Is Hardcore’?
Blur - ‘Beetlebum’
Rudimental (feat. John Newman) - ‘Good Thing’
Bastille - ‘Overload’
The Chemical Brothers - ‘Setting Sun’
Oasis - ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’
Echo And The Bunnymen - ‘The Killing Moon’
Radiohead - ‘Karma Police’
Maxine Ashley - ‘6 Underground’
Blue Boy - ‘Remember Me’
Ol’ Dirty Bastard - ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’
Gang Starr - ‘Blowin’ Up The Spot’
The Prodigy - ‘Smack My Bitch Up’
Frida Sundemo - ‘Heroes’
Sash! - ‘Encore Une Fois’ (Future Breeze edit)
Doof - ‘Suck My D*ck’
Songbirds - ‘Sun Goes Down’
Mark Morrison - ‘Return Of The Mack’
Royal Blood - ‘Blood Hands'