From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman. To read my review of “Frankenweenie,” click here.
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 likeminded 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 that 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 character’s suburban home in an irresistibly girlish warble.