L is for lovin'

The L Word soundtrack is loaded with luscious lyricism for when you're feeling lascivious

BY Sara Marcus

August 01 2004 12:00 AM ET

On the L
Word
episode when everyone drove out to the Dinah Shore
golf tournament, the gals sang “Closer to
Fine” a thousand times on the overnight
journey. But let’s be real: Alice, Jenny, and Dana
are not the only ones who could use some new tunes.
Your Ani DiFranco CDs have developed an obnoxious
habit of skipping, and those Portishead albums that
worked so well on the girls in college are losing their
magic powers. Fortunately, the L Word universe
is here to breathe new life into any lackluster music
collection—just in time for some summer
romance.

The soundtrack to
the show’s first season is a brilliantly conceived
date album, designed to take you from the polite offer
of the nightcap all the way to whatever you invited
your sweetie inside to do. Nearly all the songs are
relaxed and melodic, floating between folk and pop, with no
heavy metal guitars or bombastic rock bands to break the
mood. There’s a good balance between enduring
lesbo faves—Joan Armatrading’s anguished
“The Weakness in Me,” Lucinda
Williams’s yearning “Right in
Time”—and tunes by newer artists like
the bluegrass-tinged Be Good Tanyas and a talented
torch-song diva named Fantcha.

Some of the
tracks are masterpieces of
songwriting—Armatrading’s
early-’80s output is nearly flawless, and Leonard
Cohen’s
“Hallelujah”—performed excellently here
by Rufus Wainwright; it was also on the first Shrek
soundtrack—is about as gut-wrenchingly perfect a
treatment of complex love as anybody’s ever written.
Other songs, like “Blue Sky” by Broken
Social Scene’s Jason Collett, are throwaways that
you’d never want to hear on the A side of a single
but that fit perfectly well here as mood extenders.

There are several
awful tracks at the very end of the CD, including some
tiresome trip-hop by Kinnie Starr and an unlistenable
late-period travesty from Marianne Faithfull. But by
the time these songs roll around, over half an
hour’s worth of music has already come and gone. By
then, with a little of that other L word (luck),
neither you nor your date will be paying too much
attention to the music anyway.

Tags: Commentary

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