The two Crash and the Boys songs are, by design, toss-offs; the first, "I'm So Sad, So Very, Very Sad," is 13 seconds long, only about five of which could be called music. It's a joke that works better in the movie, but it's still funny here. The other song, "We Hate You Please Die," clocking in at just under a minute, is chockful of squalling guitar, frenetic drums, and a pretty terrific bassline. Metric's "Black Sheep" is the most polished and fully-formed of the new songs, which befits The Clash at Demonhead, as they're the only band in the movie to escape the independent scene and win a major label contract. Built around actress Brie Larson's seductive vocal, the song is part come-on, part kiss-off, which basically exemplifies the push-and-pull nature of the Scott/Envy relationship.
The pre-existing material on the soundtrack is culled from a variety of different bands, from Black Lips to The Rolling Stones, but they're all of a piece with the movie's energetic spirit. Plumtree's 1997 single "Scott Pilgrim" inspired the series, so it's a given that it's here; it also doesn't hurt that it's an infectiously earnest song about a crush, with the sing-along refrain, "I've liked you for a thousand years." Likewise, Frank Black's "I Heard Ramona Sing," from which O'Malley took the name of the girl whose seven evil ex-boyfriends Scott must defeat, is a natural fit.
The rest of the selections, all of which are strong, range from the beautiful--Beachwood Sparks' cover of Sade's "By Your Side," which may have made me cry a little bit; T. Rex's "Teenage Dream," which adds just the right touch of melodrama with its intense strings and inscrutable lyrics; and "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl," wherein Broken Social Scene pop up as themselves, giving a prime example of why they're a great band--to the ominous: Black Lips' garage punk raver "O Katrina!" ; The Bluetones' "Sleazy Bed Track," which transforms a lover's odd behavior into mesmerizing low-key drama; Blood Red Shoes' furious "It's Getting Boring by the Sea"; and The Rolling Stones' 1966 classic "Under My Thumb," an inclusion which initially surprised me but which made sense almost immediately, what with its themes of obsession and control.
Near the end of the album, we've got two versions of a new Beck song, "Ramona." The acoustic version is a reprise of the one-note composition Scott plays for Ramona in the movie. Consisting of simple guitar strumming and the words, "Ramona, oh my my," it prompts her to say, "I can't wait to hear it when it's finished." "Finished?" is Scott's baffled reply. The second, full-band version is the one it sounds like Scott could have written after the emotional revelations of the film. It puts flesh on the bare bones of the first version, adding the maturity Scott was lacking previously. It's a plea to Ramona to take him as he is, and for them to give it a shot despite it all: "And if it's all a lie/The truth's not far behind/We could try to live right for the moment." By the time you reach the song at the very end of the movie, it's earned the sentiment, and the right to such a lovely ballad. Capping things off is Brian LeBarton's 8-bit cover of "Threshold," perfect video game music which sums up the film's playful style.