The Blue Valentine Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is a stunning variety of eclectic instrumentals and vocal pieces, which detail sounds of euphoric love and heartbreak with an added dose of nostalgia. Grizzly Bear serves as the mastermind of this filmic project, as they perform most songs on the soundtrack.
The Brooklyn based folk band’s pensive tunes serve as a time warp, drawing the viewer into the relationship of two lovers, Cindy (Michelle Williams, Shutter Island) and Dean (Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl) through the life span of their relationship. “Dory (Instrumental),” “Shift (Alternative Version)” and “I Live With You” detail the breakdown of the contemporary couple’s relationship. Grizzly Bear utilizes stringed instruments’ piercing sounds to enhance this serious but very down to earth drama. “Dory (Instrumental)” splendidly narrates the descent into romantic turmoil; heavy drumming beats and a strung out vibrato on the banjo and guitar create downhearted melodies and serve as a great instrumental voice.
Vocal contributions also accentuate the recurring flashbacks in Blue Valentine, as the undertone of polyphonic melody creates a blurred sense of time. “Shift,” one of the few vocal pieces in Blue Valentine, places more emphasis on electric guitar, vocal harmonic contributions, and whimsical use of the triangle to connote a sense of transition towards a nearing devastation. In a lyrical sense, “Shift” is quite simple and lends itself mostly to repetition and crooning to magnify the song’s presence, which surprisingly doesn’t create a humdrum effect. Although the track’s tone is dismal, Grizzly Bear’s added whistling in “Shift” prevents it from becoming overbearing and also signifies couple’s dwindling but nevertheless remaining innocence. This metaphorical track’s intricate elements give a stellar portrayal of authentic complexity in a piece of music thereby making it a key song in the soundtrack.
The path towards severed ties comes to a head in “I Live With You.” The track acts as a vessel, for it catapults Blue Valentine into fiery clash of colorful emotions. Grizzly Bear utilizes raspy vocals and a fierce distortion on the electric guitar to create a crescendo of sound, evoking a sense of uncertainty and turmoil that exists between the couple in the film.
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