Sean Lennon may be on to something here. Four years ago, the son of John and Yoko did his first soundtrack work for friend Jordan Galland on the director’s Shakespearean vampire satire Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead. The film received mixed reviews. Lennon, on the other hand, got a lot of ears to perk up that hadn’t perked up for his earlier solo work by making an oddball kaleidoscope of sounds and styles come together.
Lennon does the same with Alter Egos, another Galland joint that drops superheroes into the “They’re just like us!” category of dealing with the day-to-day. In this world, even guys with superpowers have to worry about their girlfriends cheating on them. So. How to go about providing the soundtrack to a film that’s in essence silly, but also deals with its share of weighty issues?
While I can’t speak to the movie, Lennon’s musical accompaniment is striking. Mostly instrumental—and spliced with dialogue from the film—Alter Egos gives a taste of the epic orchestral scores associated with classic cape-and-tights superheroes. But those moments mingle with weirder bits of ’60s psych as well as the kind of creepier, dreamier pieces used to great effect in the canons of Lynch and Burton. “Emily vs. Claudel” is campy surf rock that, while not overly original, is still effective in the context of indie film tropes. “The Dance Pt. 1” slathers spazzy, reverbed guitars and tribal drumming for a slice of greasy rockabilly. The sugary dance number “Fridge Walks” (named after one of the film’s heroes) stands out by stylistically veering the furthest from the rest of the collection, as well as the inclusion of vocals from Cibo Matto’s Miho Hatori.
Alter Egos is even more varied than its predecessor, which makes the seamlessness of the soundtrack’s 20 pieces even more impressive. The gripes on Lennon’s solo records usually zeroed in on their lack of focus or dynamics. It’s a moot point now. Since Lennon has taken on the role of fleshing out the visions of others, he may have also stumbled on to his own alter ego in the process.