Following the recent success of the Twilight albums, Disney looks to reclaim its dominance in the soundtrack department with Almost Alice, a companion release to Tim Burton’s filmic adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
While the “Twilight” franchise aimed for an “indie” sound, Disney keeps the business side of things in mind and delivers a more commercial-sounding product with the biggest names in pop and alternative music, ranging from Avril Lavigne to The Cure’s Robert Smith contributing to the 16-track set.
Aside from a few missteps, the collection on a whole is an enjoyable listen because of each artist’s own interpretative take on the film’s whimsical overture.
Having already scored soundtrack hits with Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” and her own “Keep Holding On,” Disney’s partnership with Avril Lavigne on “Alice” was a no-brainer. The track’s Coldplay-style piano production over Lavigne’s raw vocals gives the Canadian singer-songwriter her gutsiest, most captivating ballad yet.
Party boy band 3OH!3 tones down the sexually explicit lyrics on “Follow Me Down,” still managing to deliver electro perfection with newcomer Neon Hitch, whose childlike vocals keep the dance track grounded in Wonderland.
The song most in the spirit of the film, “Tea Party” by Estonian singer Kerli, is surprisingly Disney’s raciest number to date, filled with innuendos like “Elbows down, pinkies up / That’s the way you sip my cup” and the lyric “fother mucker.” Buried under shuffling synthesizers, it’s the hints of Disney whimsicality on the track that make it such a guilty pleasure.
Another standout track is the Plain White T’s eerie-yet-enchanting “Welcome to Mystery,” which finds the group mixing their usual acoustics with the vaudevillian sound of accordions and saloon-like piano playing. The only track pulled from the animated classic is Alice’s somber “Very Good Advice,” which The Cure’s Robert Smith reinvigorates with the trippy Caribbean-style production over his signature disheveled croon.
Aside from the detracting Owl City holdover, “The Technicolor Phase,” and the bland Mark Hoppus-Pete Wentz collaboration, “In Transit,” each track from Almost Alice adds a contemporary spin to the Disney classic.
It’s not easy for an album to take you somewhere else, especially in the case of a Disney soundtrack, but with Almost Alice, you are sonically lost in Wonderland for the hour or so the collection runs without the need of hallucinogens, falling down wells or eating cookies suspiciously marked “eat me” to get you there.