This Soundtrack is Divergent.

Divergent is the first in a young adult trilogy by Chicago-based author Veronica Roth which has been adapted for the big screen. The film stars Shailene Woodley as Beatrice Prior, a girl living in a dystopian Chicago where society is divided up into five separate factions based on personality traits. Beatrice discovers that she is divergent and does not fit into just one faction, a secret which may have deadly consequences for not just herself, but the entire system that rules their society. The film also stars Theo James, Kate Winslet, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Mekhi Phifer and Jai Courtney. Divergent will be out in theatres on March 21st, 2014 in North America. 

The phrase ‘All that is gold does not glitter’ comes to mind when tuning into the Divergent soundtrack. High-profiled artists like A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Skrillex, M83, Zedd and Ellie Goulding are all featured on this soundtrack, but few actually impress. This is more true of Goulding, who lands on the deluxe edition of the soundtrack a total of four times, making it feel like you are listening to one of her own albums half the time (literally speaking, it’s a quarter). It’s all a little too familiar and too repetitive, especially given that three out of the four tracks are from Goulding’s sophomore effort, Halcyon. ‘Beating Heart’, an original song for the film, attempts an epic-lovetorn feel only to crash by the time the chorus comes around, making this lead single one of the weaker links in this collection.

Although there were a few moments where artists diverged from their signature sounds, there were only two real successful standouts. Kendrick Lamar and Tame Impala’s ‘Backwards’, a rework of the latter’s ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’, is the first. If you’ve seen Kendrick’s collaboration with Imagine Dragons or heard him rhyme over a Beach House sample, you will know that he handles genre-meshing tracks well. His gritty and aggressive approach to this song presents an interesting contrast against Tame Impala’s swirls of psychedelic indie rock and makes for a strong  punch amidst other attempts at elevating sounds, like Zedd’s piano-laden “Find You” and Skrillex’s “Stranger”, which features SBTRKT-like production before reverting back to the high pitched electronic drones central to Skrillex’s production. The second standout is A$AP Rocky’s collaboration with European producer Gessafelstein, who most recently worked on Kanye West’s Yeezus. Gessafelstein develops an eerie and dangerous sonic atmosphere while A$AP Rocky contemplates what it means to be a leader in a torn world. Gessafelstein and A$AP instil this creeping sense of urgency that you just can’t shake, a reflection of Beatrice’s emotional state over the course of the story.

Divergent music supervisor Randall Poster told MTV News that “The film is actually set not in a perfected future, but actually kind of in a future world that is deteriorating. And so we wanted to create a musical element that had reflected on current music sounds, but also felt kind of time-forward and had a certain futuristic element.” This was probably Poster’s objective when he pulled A$AP and Kendrick’s collaborations together as well as all sorts of electronic-heavy artists, but he also included a few artists that will certainly be making a significant mark in music in the years to come. Banks shared her hauntingly dark ballad, “Waiting Game” while Chance the Rapper makes Pia Mia’s R&B-pop “Fight For You” a little more substantial. Pretty Lights’ ‘Lost and Found’ gets an ambient treatment by Seattle’s Odesza which becomes one of the more dynamic moments on the Divergent soundtrack.

You might have to dig a bit to find the real gems on this OST, but it’s worth the hunt, especially when you find that you are hearing a future that’s coming together quite nicely.

7/10

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