Various artists, ‘Frankenweenie Unleashed!'
(Walt Disney Records)
Tim Burton is back in full-blown bizzaro mode with his new black-and-white, stop-motion animated movie “Frankenweenie,” and the feature-length version of his 1984 short film has drawn like-minded musical weirdos Karen O, Neon Trees, The Cure's Robert Smith, Oklahoma's own The Flaming Lips and more like eager pups to a tempting bone.
The selections on “Frankenweenie Unleashed!,” a 14-track compilation of songs from and inspired by the new movie, are strange enough to fit the bill, but too many of the tracks lack the signature off-kilter sweetness of Burton's film. Although consistently creepy, “Frankenweenie” has a quirky sense of humor and lightness of touch missing from much of the supplemental soundtrack.
Unfortunately, “My Mechanical Friend,” rocker Grace Potter's contribution featuring The Flaming Lips, is a perfect example of the album's inappropriately dark material. The coldly repetitive track is as mechanical as the title suggests, with none of the Oklahoma City-based experimental rock band's usual mischievousness to warm it.
The overwrought screamer “Lost Cause” from indie rockers Imagine Dragons would be better suited to a torture porn flick or maybe a Michael Bay “Transformers” sequel than “Frankenweenie.” Likewise, Estonian pop belter Kerli's vocals soar majestically on the emotional anthem “Immortal,” but the song sounds like it belongs in a “Twilight Saga” movie instead of a kid-friendly animated homage to “Frankenstein.”
Several of the tracks do hit the oddball sweet spot, though, particularly Karen O's Hawaiian-flavored opener “Strange Love,” Neon Tree's ridiculously catchy “Electric Heart (Stay Forever)” and Awolnation's playful piano ode “Everybody's Got a Secret.” Smith channels his inner lounge singer for the wonderfully weird “Witchcraft.”
Of course, it wouldn't be a Burton production without a song from Danny Elfman — the composer's “Frankenweenie” score is featured on a separate soundtrack album — and “Unleashed” closes with “Praise Be New Holland,” a funny little ditty from the movie that features Winona Ryder singing the praises of her suburban home in an irresistibly girlish warble.
— Brandy McDonnell