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Album Review: We Bought a Zoo [Original Soundtrack] by Jonsi
Fairly Good, Based on 9 Critics
Entertainment Weekly - 72 Based on rating B
After using several Sigur Rós songs in 2001’s Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe hired the Icelandic band’s elfin frontman, Jónsi, to score his latest. The resulting soundtrack for We Bought a Zoo — thick with multitracked vocals, plaintive piano, and swooning orchestral arrangements by classical-music hotshot Nico Muhly — feels more or less indistinguishable from a Sigur Rós album, though Jónsi does flash a refreshingly frisky side on ”Gathering Stories,” which he co-wrote with Crowe. B Download These:Swelling hymn Ævin EndarAvant-pop tune Boy Lilikoi .
Enigmatic Icelanders Sigur Rós' grandiose post-rock sound has become such a ubiquitous presence on the big-screen that it's a surprise it's taken this long for a film director to utilize the magical talents of their frontman Jonsi for an entire soundtrack. Having already licensed three of their songs for 2001's head-scratcher Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe was perhaps always going to be the first to take the plunge, even more so considering that the code name of his comedy drama, We Bought a Zoo, was named after the band's 2007 documentary, Heima, and that he regularly played Jonsi's recent solo debut to set the mood for stars Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson in various scenes. Three of the most anthemic numbers from Go also appear here ("Boy Lilikoi," "Sinking Friendships," "Go Do"), as does Sigur Rós' inescapable signature hit "Hoppipolla," but elsewhere, Jonsi has crafted 11 brand new pieces of music, ranging from short and sweet instrumentals such as the otherworldly cinematics of "Sun" and the wave-crashing, bluegrass-tinged "Humming" to emotionally-stirring orchestral numbers arranged by Nico Muhly ("Whole Made Of Pieces," the title track), to several numbers recorded using a toy piano, including the enchanting, childlike lullaby "Brambles" and the echo-laden, out of tune atmospherics of "Sink Ships.
You've got very few choices if you're looking for someone with name recognition and vestigial indie cred to score a big-budget holiday movie called We Bought a Zoo. The Flaming Lips have already done their Christmas movie soundtrack (and, yes, even have a song about Christmas at the zoo), and this is a Cameron Crowe film we're talking about, one that's being touted as "from the director of Jerry Maguire," as opposed to, say, "from the director of Almost Famous." So Jónsi it is, and you can't argue with the decision. As frontman of Sigur Rós, his vocals embody wide-eyed wonder without devolving into unbearable twee overload.
Icelandic band Sigur Rós has had an ethereal sound since their very first album and the truth is that no band sounds quite like them. The sweeping strings, grand falsetto, and massive crescendos have always felt suited as a backdrop for a major film. Thus, it should come as little surprise that Sigur Rós’ front man Jónsi has finally been enlisted to create a film soundtrack, in this case by director Cameron Crowe for his holiday film We Bought a Zoo.
If there’s a hard-to-shop-for Sigur Rós fan in your life, say a little blessing to the spirit of corporate synergy for making 2011 the year your holiday shopping took care of itself. Between the just-released Inni concert set (which is available in five editions, the most of elaborate of which contains a Blu-ray disc, two CDs, a vinyl EP, and some tchotchkes) and Jónsi’s oddly fussed-over soundtrack for Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo, there’s no shortage of appealing but totally inessential stocking stuffers on the market—perfect for fans of avant-garde Icelandic pop who might be feeling a bit light in the wallet after going all in on one of those absurd Biophilia boxes. While Jónsi has a way to go before he’ll match Björk’s knack for repackaging scams that are as artful as they are gratuitous, he’s probably set himself up for a nice bonus this winter solstice.
The artist's bill of rights clearly states that all musicians are "free to the pursuit of life, liberty, and pimping their music to film soundtracks." Okay, that might not be entirely accurate. But the truth is this—while it might be easy to support the right of Sigur Rós bandleader Jónsi to make a few additional bucks off 2010's superb solo album Go, it's tough to support We Bought a Zoo. Well, not fully anyway.
In December 2001, millions of Americans checked into theaters to catch Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky, only to check out slightly confused and beleaguered. Plenty of visuals followed ’em home – especially this one – but what really lingered for some was the film’s soundtrack. Outside of Paul McCartney’s stirring title track or Radiohead’s then newer hit, “Everything In Its Right Place”, the film also shifted the spotlight on Sigur Rós.
New Musical Express (NME) - 50 Based on rating 2.5/5
This is that Cameron Crowe film out this week, about a family who move, unknowingly, into a dilapidated zoo. Crowe’s full of praise for the Sigur Rósian who scored it, claiming he used his ‘Go’ album for “scene-setting” and that the film – while also featuring music by anyone from Dylan to the Bunnymen to Mariachi El Bronx to Bon Iver – “brims with his one-of-a-kind sonic heartbeat”.In fact it’s as dreamy and atmospheric as you might expect, but the truth is that only a handful of Jónsi’s 15 tunes here – ‘Sinking Friendships’, ‘Go Do’ – really work without the context of some CGI tigers.[i]Hamish MacBain[/i] .
Cameron Crowe’s dreams come true as he co-writes with the Icelander on this soundtrack. Mike Diver 2012 We Bought a Zoo, the movie, left a slight impression on the stateside box office over Christmas 2011. Based on the real-life story of the Mee family from Devon, who purchased and refurbished Dartmoor Zoological Park in 2006/07, it attracted plaudits for Matt Damon’s performance as Benjamin Mee, and was the sixth-biggest draw of its opening weekend.