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Soundtrack review: The spectacular now (Rob Simonsen – 2013)

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Soundtrack review: The spectacular now (Rob Simonsen – 2013)


Slowly and constantly Rob Simonsen has become one of my top five composers to get excited about. Top 5 means whatever he puts out is a top priority for me to listen to. I trust him. I know how he makes me feel and I know his music will never let me down. There is a special something in his sound, something that found a counterpoint inside me. I don’t know Rob Simonsen but the music he writes has a piece of my soul in it. This is the beauty of film music and of music in general. Rob also writes for special kind of movies, movies that are deep, simple and honest just like his music. I first met him last year with “Wish I was here” and now I’ve discovered a score for another heartfelt movie about two teenagers who discover life and each other. The movie is called “The spectacular now” and comes from 2013. The only reason I am doing the review of the music before watching it is that I am too impatient to hear the music and add another score to my list of all-time favorites. Yes, I trust Rob Simonsen this much and I stand by this intro no matter what the music will tell me.

The brilliance of this composer is clear from the first cue. I listen to “I had the best fucking girlfriend” with its quirky and amusing trombone sounds and the joyful marching of the band and I don’t need to know what the story is about. I can just take this blend of nostalgic, carefree, careless and slightly arrogant and mold it into a character. The music is rich and multidimensional and it builds landscapes and images just like a children’s popup book. And I am listening to it with the same awe a kid would be looking at those images magically appear from between two pages.

I knew Rob Simonsen the melancholic, the powerful and the one who can provide the soundtrack of the most relaxing Sunday afternoon but I hadn’t heard him like this yet: so fun, so optimistic. His musical honesty shines through “The spectacular now” in different ways than before and I seem to recognize my feelings as a teenager in this music. I hear impatience, I hear doubt, I hear joy and I see things as more serious than they actually are. I hear hope in this wonderfully simple composition; simple but so deep and so universal that I dare anyone who listens to this gem not recognize a version of himself in it.

I listen to this score and I smile because I recognize the feeling of first love. It’s all there in these simple and powerful notes: the first look… losing your breath for a moment… the first smile… the feeling of being slightly drunk with hope and oblivion of the real world… the feeling of floating on the clouds on which the object of your affection stands… the sweet shadow of melancholy… the first time you are scared of the feelings you discover…

Each cue is the equivalent of a simple and honest word spoken between two young souls who are just discovering their connection. “The spectacular now” is the little spark that travels inside everyone at some moment and leaves an unforgettable mark if you are open hearted enough to feel it. It’s not all happy but it’s real. This score is life as we know it, from beginning to end. To me Rob Simonsen is the most honest composer when it comes to the sound of, simply, life. No exaggerations… no embellishments… nothing forced or artificial. Just a young human heart with all its tribulations, meaningless or not. Don’t miss this score. Don’t let it go. The prince of minimalism keeps building his legacy.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 35 / 35

Album excellence: 100%


I Had The Best Fucking Girlfriend

You Came Along

You’re Such A Good Listener

Im-Ing Cassidy 1

2m15 You’re Absolutely Beautiful

Im-Ing Cassidy 2

You Shouldn’t Treat Her This Way

You Come Here

I Think That You’re Wonderful

I Did It / I Want To Call Him

I Know Where He Is

I Live In The Now

Waiting Room

Goodbye, Cassidy

I Can’t Promise You That / I Need To Keep Going

I’m A King

I Was Never Not Afraid

Song For Zula (End Credits, Pt. I)

Drive To Dad’s / Walk In The Trees Reprise (End Credits, Pt. II)


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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