Jonsi, We Bought A Zoo (Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Ryan Reed

By Ryan Reed

on 12.13.11 in Reviews

We Bought A Zoo - Music by Jónsi

When it was first announced that Jonsi Birgisson — the angel-voiced frontman of Icelandic post-rock heart-melters Sigur Ros — was soundtracking the new Cameron Crowe film, the most logical response was, “Hasn’t this already happened?” Vanilla Sky, Crowe’s overly trippy, underrated 2001 epic, featured three Sigur Ros tracks, all played for widescreen, mind-altering effect. In this new decade, Jonsi and Crowe are both elder statesmen of a similar aesthetic. Both are unabashed maximalists — they want audiences to weep, to feel empowered, to fall in love — whether it be through a swooping falsetto frill or a wide-lens aerial shot of a couple kissing in a rainstorm.

Plenty of grand emotion here

There’s plenty of grand emotion here. Several tracks are culled from Jonsi’s solo debut, Go, which saw the enigmatic multi-instrumentalist dropping his mythic fairy tale mystique and embracing an energetic, Disney-esque zeal. The best, most logical tracks from that album (the glorious, orchestral electro-folk of “Boy Lilikoi,” the aching ballad “Sinking Friendships,” the carpe diem nature-boy club-pop of “Go Do”) all make the cut, and with their effortless beauty, it’s quite easy to see why. But Jonsi’s also crafted a stellar all-around score, from the gorgeous organ interlude “Brambles” to the very Sigur Ros-esque “We Bought a Zoo,” an extended instrumental filled with circling strings, rainbows of vocal harmony and a web of sticky electronics. Then there’s “Gathering Stories” (co-written by Crowe himself): a gushing volcano of strings and voices and meaty percussion that climaxes in calm — with the delicate twinkle of a music box.