Duncan Sheik had a few hits on the Billboard chart. After doing time with His Boy Elroy (does anyone else remember them?), Sheik rocketed up the chart with “Barely Breathing”. After cutting a few more tracks, Sheik was tapped to contribute the music for the American stage version of “Spring Awakening”, a re-tooling of a seminal Frank Wedekind work. “Mamma Who Bore Me” is a fairly Spartan composition, with little more in the way of accompaniment than strings.
The vocals that are present during the track are strong enough to keep individuals focused in, but for those individuals who may be afflicted with ADD (like your editor), the reprise of “Mamma Who Bore Me” has more vocals and a more complex arrangement to it. “All That’s Known” has a different vocal (different character), but the same vocal presence is here on the track. The drums are providing most of the instrumental fury during the track, but what really stands out during “All That’s Known” are the vocal harmonies that kick in halfway through the track. “The Bitch of Living” is one of the tracks that move beyond simply being part of a musical and could conceivably be present on an independent rock station. Hints of Semisonic and Matthew Sweet come forth during this track, and this sound comes back at points (but at greatly reduced intervals) during “My Junk”. It is during “Touch Me” that the style shifts again, to a much more introspective, blend of seventies pop music with hints of Banhart-like folk.
Tracks go by fast on this soundtrack, and while there are specific themes (especially the interplay between the pop-laced style of the vocals on the soundtrack with the much more orchestral, classic sound of the orchestra) present, each song seems to bring something much different to the table. While individuals have tried to cross over from popular music to more serious musical forms, such as Paul Simon and Randy Newman, it seems like Sheik has the strongest outing of any of them. “Spring Awakening” has interesting songs that actually tell a story, something made all the more difficult considering the fact that there is nothing in the way of intervening dialogue to further the narrative. For any fan of musical theatre, “Spring Awakening” is the soundtrack that pushes buttons while crawling deep underneath the skin of anyone that may be fortunate enough to focus in on the album.
Top Tracks: The Dark I Know Well, I Believe
OST: Spring Awakening / 2006 Decca Broadway / 20 Tracks / http://www.springawakening.com / http://www.decca.com / Reviewed 22 April 2007