The Soundtrack to THE SOCIAL NETWORK

I’m not sure if it makes me somehow less of a Nine Inch Nails fan, but my favorite album by that band in recent years was the Ghosts I-IV instrumental record released in 2009. And maybe that’s why, for me, the five-track sampler from The Social Network soundtrack feels more like a natural progression for the post-NIN Trent Reznor than the self-titled How to Destroy Angels EP did.

Consider this: Even before he called Ghosts a “soundtrack for daydreams”, he was calling 2007’s Year Zero “the soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist”. For a guy who many fans will admit was running out of ideas lyrically, it certainly seems as if the path forward was clear. Should we be surprised that he decided to tackle the soundtrack to an actual film this time around? Not in the least.

And yet, to label the music that Reznor and Atticus Ross have created for The Social Network as merely a soundtrack seems a disservice. Perhaps it’s because of how uninspiring soundtracks have become in recent years, but the word soundtrack actually sounds demeaning to me. What they’ve created, like the music John Williams created back in the day, is just plain good music. Never mind the labels.

Yes, the lingering influence of Nine Inch Nails can be felt on these tracks—the orchestral/noise swells remind me a little too much of a royalty-free loop I bought for Pop Bubblegum Trash back in the day called Rezstrings—but Trent and Atticus take us in a whole bunch of different directions here. There are parts of “Pieces Form the Whole” that sound brighter than anything I’ve heard out of Old Man Reznor since “Maybe Just Once”. And there’s stuff on here that sounds like it could have easily come out of that cabin where he sequestered himself to write “La Mer”, had he not been on drugs and contemplating suicide.

How this great set of tunes will connect with what David Fincher is doing in the film should be very interesting. I don’t think anyone expected a movie about something as seemingly light as Facebook to be as dark as this movie is being advertised to be, and I don’t think there was as much buzz about this film with the people I know until this sampler came out to set the tone. I mean, Justin Timberlake has a big role in the film, for Christ’s sake! But now the people I know are talking not just about the film, but about going to see it, and there’s a big difference between those two things. I think what Reznor and Ross have done here with the music is a big part of that.

What do you think?