Sun, sand, surf, shirtless Benjamin McKenzie … What more could you ask for? Fox’s “The O.C.,” now in its second season, revolves around four super-rich high schoolers dealing with everyday life in beautiful Orange County, Calif. How about a hit soundtrack bursting with songs ideal for days spent lamenting over what outfit to wear? No problem.The O.C. Mix 4 succeeds in producing a stellar collection of tracks, but still falls a step below its predecessors. The mix opens with the heavy British accents of The Futureheads on “Decent Days and Nights.” Laden with infectious guitar riffs and non stop, snapping drums, this track is sure to have listeners tapping their feet in no time.
The rest of the album is devoted to softer, more contained songs. Sufjan Stevens lends his Elliott Smith-esque vocals to “To Be Alone With You.” Indie rockers Modest Mouse also make an appearance with “The View,” a cut from their 2004 release Good News for People Who Love Bad News. This song rocks in usual Mouse fashion, complete with pulsing drums and sizzling guitars. Also present is “Scarecrow,” a track from Beck’s latest release, Guero. While the lyrics are difficult to decipher, Beck’s innovative recording style still succeeds in grabbing listeners’ attention.
For a change of pace from previous mixtapes, The O.C. Mix 4 features more than a handful of tunes from female vocalists. Singer-songwriter Imogen Heap dazzles listeners with “Goodnight and Go.” While her smooth, soaring vocals sound uncannily like Sarah McLachlan’s, her keyboard skills are a welcome change from the glut of guitar-wielding rocker chicks.
However, like every episode of “The O.C.,” this mix is not without its low points. Every time Marissa gets caught drinking, or Ryan gets in a fight, these are the songs that should be playing — if only because they’re as unpleasant as the characters’ situations. San Diego quartet Pinback opens “Fortress” with a catchy guitar hook, but the song quickly loses its appeal because of obnoxious drone. Additionally, indie rocker Aqueduct stuns listeners with his shockingly hostile lyrics: “Don’t ever ask me where I go / Last man who asked me had to go … If you start asking / I’ll pull this heat I’m packing.”
The O.C. Mix 4 redeems itself with the last track, matt pond PA’s cover of Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova.” When he sings, “Where were you while we were getting high?” the listener can’t help but wonder if Sandy Cohen gets high to this song while Kirsten is out of the house. And the tone of that track serves as a fitting end to a show with such excess-prone characters as “The O.C.”
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars