Melodrama is the rule in the Twilight movies, and at times the Eclipse soundtrack seems like the perfect musical accompaniment to a film with a flair for the sensational. The album opens with a somewhat bland, airy pop anthem from Canadian indie rock group Metric and the piano-heavy ballad “Neutron Star Collision (Love is Forever)” from Muse, who have been regular contributors to the saga’s soundtracks. After these, though, the album matures into a later stage of adolescence with contributions from Florence and the Machine (the haunting “Heavy in Your Arms”) and Sia’s beautiful vocals on “My Love,” draped over a sparse but melodic accompaniment of piano and strings.
The Twilight and New Moon soundtracks featured a surprising selection of alternative music’s figureheads, including Thom Yorke (Radiohead) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie). Eclipse continues this tradition, bringing in a charming folksy romp from London-based indie-pop group Fanfarlo (“Atlas”) and songs by The Black Keys, The Dead Weather, Beck, Bat for Lashes, Band of Horses and, of course, Vampire Weekend.
A refreshing mid-record digression from the hormone-heavy world of sparkling vampires and teenage werewolves comes in the form of The Black Keys’ “Chop and Change.” Following their bluesy funk is a delightfully brooding bass line and the western-tumbleweed feel of The Dead Weather’s “Rolling in on a Burning Tire.” And while the songs from the Beck/Bat for Lashes team and Vampire Weekend may be less memorable than one would hope, they’re still worth a listen.
The album wraps up with another stylistic shift, moving to the nostalgic strumming of acoustic guitars and layers of floating vocals on the Band of Horses track “Life on Earth,” and a contemplative instrumental from composer Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings), its bass arpeggios and gentle treble melody weaving a poignant piece of piano music. The Twilight series has earned itself a great deal of scoffing and derision, but its soundtracks shouldn’t be so easily dismissed.