Unlike its brother Queer As Folk, lesbian drama The L Word uses a soundtrack to portray emotion. While QAF soundtracks gay anthems well, particularly in its Babylon Nightclub scenes, The L Word is more likely to bring in the music for a scene of broken hearts.
It makes sense then, that The L Word soundtrack is a quieter and more contemplative collection, a world away from the thumpers we’ve gotten out of QAF. From the opening track -“ The Murmurs’ Genius -“ to the end, there’s not a non-Latin dance beat to be found.
Fans of the show already know about The Murmurs. Although one of the members was Leisha Hailey (who plays Alice on The L Word), the inclusion of Genius can’t be considered nepotism. They were one of the more significant -“ and out -“ college bands of the 90s. They are probably still best known for the 1994 single You Suck, a pretty adolescent-angst track that doesn’t make it onto this album.
That’s not the biggest omission. Imagine a collection of lesbian-themed music without kd (although she did produce The Murmurs song), Melissa or the Indigo Girls? Or without Joan Jett, L7, Hole, Bikini Kill or even Dolly Parton for argument’s sake? Here it is. One can only assume the big lezzo labels weren’t willing -“ surely they would have been more appropriate than indie nobody Jason Collett, who contributes one of the album’s only almost-duds, Blue Sky. Jason is one of three dudes on the album -“ honorary lesbian Rufus Wainwright goes all Leonard Cohen via Jeff Buckley with Hallelujah and Joseph Arthur (who?) kicks in the moody In The Sun.
The L Word trainspotters, and this reviewer counts herself as one, will enjoy matching the songs with the on-show moments. If they can bear to relive some of the scenes -“ Jenny and Marina’s love-making (Lucinda Williams’s lovely Right In Time and then Kinnie Starr’s Alright) or Jenny’s mushroom-fuelled family van road trip (In Spite Of All The Damage by The Be Good Tanyas). Or what about the flashback scene with the gay but homophobic cop -“ soundtracked by Connie Francis’s Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool. Don’t despair, better memories are on offer, like the very first song from the very first episode -“ Marianne Faithfull’s The Pleasure Song gets a guernsey. It reminds you, the faithful fan, of what it was like in the very beginning.
Anyway, the soundtrack works for what it is. The only criticisms of it are similar to the most common criticisms of the show: There’s too much heartache, too much angst, too much Jenny.
The L Word soundtrack is out this week on Festival Mushroom Records.