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Thumbsucker (Original Score)

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Album Review

The soundtrack to Mike Mills' debut film, Thumbsucker, was apparently an exercise in doubt and devotion. Elliott Smith had been asked to score the film as well as contribute a cover version or two for the film's original score. After Smith's death, Mills, deep in the editing process, was thrown into the depths: he lost a close friend as well as a collaborator. He kept the music Smith had written for Thumbsucker ("Basement on a Hill" and "Let's Get Lost") as well as the two covers he recorded (Big Star's "Thirteen" and Cat Stevens' "Trouble"). He hooked up with Tim DeLaughter and various members of his Polyphonic Spree, who composed and recorded an original score. The Spree's large, nearly chanted chorus vocals, which never stray far from the gentle pop psychedelic musical soundscapes, complement the film perfectly and add to its endearingly wonderful narrative, but also make a powerful emotional statement on their own as an album. From the orchestral orgiastic march of "The Crash," which serves as an intro, and the ballads like "Scream & Shout" and the haunting "The Green Lights," to the gloriously happy bombast of "Debate Montage" (which references DeLaughter's earlier band, Tripping Daisy) and the sweetly, innocently romantic "Skinny Dip," Polyphonic Spree encapsulates the sometimes mawkish, sometimes bewildered, yet always wide-eyed wonder of life in the process of being lived. That it so perfectly mirrors the film's protagonist, Justin, is a small miracle. That the music creates a feeling apart from celluloid and seems to create images from the ether is a triumph. And it should be added that Smith's songs add immeasurably to the overall feel and considerable depth of the score. For fans of DeLaughter and Polyphonic Spree, this will come as a welcome addition to their catalog. For those encountering the band through the movie, this score will be a treasure and perhaps even a revelation.

Customer Reviews

Great music, confusing technicalities.

The reason I ended up buying this album was specifically for the two previously unreleased Elliott Smith songs. I was really disappointed that they couldn't be bought on their own, but being forced to buy the whole album was actually a pleasant surprise for the most part. I was worried that track 22, Acceptance, was going to be a rip-off. I thought since it was 30 minutes long that it was maybe 3 minutes of song and 24 minutes of silence then 3 minutes of hidden track, however, this was not the case. Fortunately all 30 minutes are indeed music, however, it's pretty much a loop with slight variances. Something else that bothered me was that this appears to be an incomplete version of the album! Online listings seem to mostly have this version, however, another version has an extra 3 songs tacked on to the end; Wait And See, Move Away And Shine - (Symphonic version), and NYU Letter. However, apparently that version is more difficult to find. I found it available on eBay. Anyway, other than technical issues, this is a GREAT album. I never really considered myself a Polyphonic Spree fan, but after hearing this I may have to change my stance. This is an autumn album; calm and quiet for the most part. There are splashes of symphony, which are nice as well. And Elliott Smith's songs, (Thirteen and Trouble are said to be some of his very last recordings) are melancholy and beautiful. Though it's only really 32 minutes of music, I say this album is worth it. I usually don't like album scores, but the polyphonic spree pulls it off with this one. It's worth it to buy this album for Smith's songs alone, and listening to the Polyphonic Spree's complements will most definitely be pleasing as well. I highly recommend this album!

Why not be able to purchase Elliott songs?

I am highly dissapointed that one is not able to purchase the unreleased Elliott Smith tracks. The movie is fairly good, but the main reason for desiring the soundtrack is for the unreleased Elliott Smith songs. To whoever possesses the power at iTunes, PLEASE RELEASE THESE TRACKS FOR PURCHASE!!

Thumbsucker Soundtrack

This movie was one of the best movies I've seen all year. It is moving and touching. I believe that the music made this film. The sounds of this original soundtrack are a perfect compliment to the great acting and directing in this film. First, see the movie; you will undoubtedly then want to own this soundtrack.


Formed: 2000 in Dallas, TX

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

When the Polyphonic Spree first appeared in 2000, the Dallas symphonic pop group was as much a band as a "happening," in the 1960s sense of the word. The Spree's two dozen members took the stage in flowing robes of snowy white, an appropriate backdrop for their happy and uplifting blend of pop, orchestral rock, and minimal touches of gospel. The costumes changed over the years, but the Polyphonic Spree's message remained consistent, drawing comparisons to the Flaming Lips and the Beach Boys with...
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