REVIEW: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire OST

hunger-games-catching-fire-soundtrack-sliceWe don’t have much to thank Twilight for, but that decrepit series of films did give us some truly wonderful soundtracks (anyone who can put Beach House and Grizzly Bear together to create Slow Life is worth taking a facial for, however undead). Unfortunately, the last time someone tried to use a movie compilation as currency, it ended up a complete exercise in flaccidity.

Speaking of flaccid, Coldplay open the Hunger Games’ second outing. It’s not bad news at all though – Atlas opens a rather strong three-pronged assault, quickly followed by Of Monsters and Men’s Silhouette, and the ungodly alliance of the world’s most overrated R&B singer (the Weeknd) and the world’s most overrated songwriter (Sia). Personal bias aside, Elastic Heart isn’t a bad song at all.

The success is a little bit offset by the next few tracks, however, as The National’s Lean doesn’t really go anywhere; meanwhile Christina Aguilera reins it in for We Remain and sounds a bit bored while she’s at it. The Weeknd pops up again with Devil May Cry, and loses any good favour he’s earned with Elastic Heart. Throw in a bit of the Lumineers and Imagine Dragons, and we suppose you have the album equivalent of a film’s flabby mid-section. Like that woeful bit in Twilight where the camera goes round and round K-Stew for about ten minutes as the months go by, and sweet baby Jesus continues weeping.

There’s a little bit of respite from Lorde once again doing her best Lana XCX, and from Ellie Goulding’s Mirror (continuing her quest to become the nation’s favourite pyromaniac after Burn). Santigold adds even more fire with a very funky Shooting Arrows at the Sky, while the collection comes to a jaw-dropping finish with the Antony & the Johnsons’ Angel on Fire. Of course Hegarty is ever-reliable, but this in particular stands out as a moment of calm and fragility amidst a lot of teen-aimed noise.

That said, the Hunger Games: Catching Fire OST clearly fares much better than something like Gatsby, mainly because it plays perfectly to its market. There’s that slightly weighty, maudlin-indie (maudlindie?) slant to the tracks, all rousing choruses and emotional orchestration; if you’re a fan of the books, you’ll probably get choked-up thinking about the moments each song could underline. Given that the tracks aren’t exactly subtle, it remains to be seen whether they’ll detract from the film’s visuals. Until then, there’s a reasonable amount of nourishment to be found here as a standalone compilation.