CD Review: Brothers of the Head Soundtrack
How many soundtracks out there are really worth picking up? These albums are more often the side effect of a movie's impact, especially if the movie has original music written for it. Just how much do you really want to hear the theme from The Great Escape or the Dust Brothers' work on Fight Club? The answer, usually, is "not that much".
Brothers of the Head is a rare exception. The film follows the exploits of the Howe brothers, a pair of conjoined twins who are drafted into the emergent punk scene by an entrepreneurial exploitation artist. The soundtrack is exactly what you might expect: a collection of the songs of the twins' fake band, the Bang Bang. The marvellous thing about the film and the soundtrack is that the actors from the film actually play all of their own music. In fact, one song on the soundtrack, the raucous Sink Or Swim, was actually written by Harry Treadaway, the actor who plays Tom Howe in the film.
All of this would be meaningless, of course, but for the fact that the music is so evocative of both the early punk era and the feel of the film itself. Veteran producer Clive Langer worked with the actors in the film to develop an authentic punk aesthetic that works exceptionally well in songs such as My Friend (You C***) and Nelson's Blood.
As a standalone piece, the album is a bit simple and repetitive; the songs, though well conceived and performed, tread on territory better covered by classic acts such as the Buzzcocks or the Ramones. Two Way Romeo was the big kick-off track, the one that ostensibly made the fictional band famous, but in this case it's one of the weakest tracks on the album. For every great track (Sitting in a Car) there's one that's less than compelling (I Am a Sock).
All of this is entirely forgivable, however, when the movie and soundtrack are considered together. Brothers of the Head was a fascinating character piece and the songs that the Bang Bang plays are a major portion of this. From the beginning, the brothers are ideologically different in several ways: the sweet acoustic song My Friend, which Tom writes for a young journalist he's become enamoured with, is distorted into You C*** by the vitriolic, embittered Barry. At the same time, it's easy to hear how ready Tom is to channel the pain that the brothers keep locked away. This soundtrack is the fictional exploits of a troubled, soulful pair of brothers and, when combined with the overarching story from the film, it's quite a companion piece.
- Nicholas Carter
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