21 was a surprise pre-summer hit in the 2008 box-office year, snagging millions while greeted with a ho-hum response. For spending so much time in Vegas, however, one would naturally expect a sleek, sexy soundtrack to match, and—thankfully—it does mostly that. Emphasis on “mostly.” The disc opens with one of the worst aural abortions in recent memory: Soulwax’s synth-heavy remix of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Jagger’s then-youthful voice sounds completely out of place amidst Soulwax’s gradual synth cascades, the song almost redeeming itself with a church organ thrown in during the last two minutes, but by and large it’s a terrible way to start the disc. Fortunately, some top-notch tracks from electro-rockers MGMT (“Time to Pretend”) and LCD Soundsystem (the brand new “Big Ideas”) help soften the blow. Though tracks from Dave Sardy, Amon Tobin, and Knives Out are somewhat passable (and do we really need to hear “Young Folks” one more time?), it’s trashy, sexy grinds from Get Shakes, UNKLE, and the guilty-pleasure pop number “Shut Up and Drive” from Rihanna that really make you feel like you’re rolling straight sixes. Mix in some excellent indie-rock numbers (the Aliens’ “I Am the Unknown” and Broadcast’s near-perfect “Tender Buttons”), and you got yourself a thrilling musical night in Vegas: some excellent highs, some new experiences, a few dull moments and part you won’t be able to remember the next day.
// Notes from the Road
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