Let’s face it; soundtrack albums usually fall into two distinct – and not particularly interesting – categories. Firstly, there’s the fillerific, between-albums category, where rock stars with spare time on their hands contribute some half-formed ideas to a (usually high-of-brow and low-of-budget) film in the hope of catching some credibility in its slipstream. The second, marginally more vile, category is the ‘Music From And Inspired By’ album; market-researched to within an inch of its life and featuring music that – while not actually in the film itself – appeals to whichever demographic the coke-hoovering Hollywood reptiles want to sell franchise-endorsed underwear to. There are exceptions, but generally one should proceed with caution.
There are no second thoughts required about purchasing the Hallam Foe soundtrack, however. We know the actual film itself is a murder mystery of sorts but what relevance this album bears to the movie is trivial… to us, anyway. No, you should buy this album because it’s a lovingly-compiled, frequently surprising trawl through the vaults of one of the UK’s finest record labels: Domino.
Opening with the joyous, primary-coloured post-punk bluster of Orange Juice’s 1980 single ‘Blue Boy’, you’re reminded of just how great Edwyn Collins’ old band are – and if you’re unfamiliar with Orange Juice, we suggest you invest in the near-perfect 2005 compilation ‘The Glasgow School’ pronto – and see how their bouncy, infectious melodies should’ve soundtracked about a million movies before this one.
From there we move onto the ethereal agit-folk of sometime Fence Collective member UNPOC – whose ‘Here On My Own’ justifies the admission price in itself by sounding eerily like The Beach Boys covering the Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’ – and Sons And Daughters’ sullen, foreboding ‘Broken Bones’. The entire record is full of hidden gems such as these, from the off-kilter Argentinian lullaby of Juana Molina’s ‘Salvese Quien Pueda’ – whose voice is gorgeous enough to make you feel like you’re drowning in a candyfloss ocean in a particularly trippy Michel Gondry film – to Woodbine’s haunting, heartbreaking ‘I Hope That You Get What You Want’. It’s a frankly astonishing collection of songs.
But you want to know about the elephant in the room, don’t you? Well, yes, ‘Hallam Foe…’ does indeed contain new Franz Ferdinand material. But no, it sounds nothing like ‘Take Me Out’. Or the new songs they debuted in Glasgow the other month. ‘Hallam Foe Dandelion Blow’ is an understated and rather gorgeous acoustic paean to the film’s title character, who “Watches them for hours/From slates and clock towers/The lives below”. Punctuated by almighty jolts of atmospheric guitars swimming in a sea of reverb it’s dark, dreamy and totally in line with everything that’s great about this compilation. Hence, you won’t be cutting a dash to it on any dancefloors anytime soon.
Nonetheless, this is an absolute must-have record, whether you see the film or not. Cast aside any reservations you may have had about cash-ins; every song on here – with the possible exception of Future Pilot AKA’s minute-long ‘Battle At The Gates Of Dub’ – is, as they say, a beazer. And if it doesn’t open your ears to at least one band you’ve never heard of before… well, you’re deaf. Nice one, Domino.