As someone who's long been a fan of the book, to see 'The Giver' movie finally come to fruition has been quite the nostalgic trip. Headed and ended by OneRepublic and featuring rising stars such as Tori Kelly ('Silent'), Capital Cities ('One Minute More') and other solid up-and-comers in the music industry, 'The Giver: Music Collection' has a perfect mix of superstar power and the flair of still-indie but progressively more mainstream acts to inspire confidence in its pedigree. But is that confidence warranted?
One Republic's first track 'Ordinary Human' has a pleasant synthetic backing and uplifting, optimistic lyrics that, with a certain "sci-fi" vibe, is reminiscent of Muse combined with the nouveau-disco feel common to contemporary popular music. 'One Minute More' plants the album more firmly in the territory of contemporary pop-rock with a light, airy and upbeat tone alongside, again, positive lyrics, and some interesting mid-paced synth. From there we go into the only female vocals on the album with Tori Kelly's 'Silent', which is a competent acoustic guitar song with a country twang. Where 'Silent' takes that distinct country flavor, 'Feel What's Good' by Jake Bugg brings in a dash of classic rock in some electric guitar. It's not strictly acoustic, of course, but it maintains a certain soulful element to its lyrics that resembles that of more acoustic and instrumental music. Bruno Major's 'Children' is more stripped down, its lyrics taking center-stage over a lightly strumming guitar.
Rixton's 'Whole', oddly enough, sounds more like a OneRepublic song than the actual OneRepublic. The music seems unnecessarily slow to the point of lethargy. However, Rixton give way to album highlight Aloe Blacc's 'Here Today'; the strong vibe of gospel and blues give it a certain dynamism and very inspirational quality. 'Shine My Way' by Sheppard has a lot of the same sound, and its more subdued lyrics carry all the richness that the swinging beat demands. The album departs with two more acoustic style songs - NEEDTOBREATHE's 'Difference' and OneRepublic's closer 'I Lived'. 'Difference' is slow and somber throughout, invoking the same vibe that made 'Children' work, while 'I Lived' picks up the pace around the time it gets to the bridge.
On the whole, there's a lot of good to be said about 'The Giver: Music Collection'. It's extremely crisp and professional, and a lot of the songs on it are alternately soothing and fun to move to; it's great as a stand alone album. My only real complaint is its tendency towards uniformity. There's a fine line between an album that sounds coherent and an album where all of the songs sound the same, and, unfortunately, 'The Giver''s score ends up ever-so-slightly on the wrong side of that. I'm more forgiving of this for a movie soundtrack, but as it approaches 'Whole', the acoustic-sounding songs start to get a bit stale. 'The Giver''s score is at its best when it's upbeat, uplifting and dynamic, and there's more than enough of that for a good album.
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