Ever since its 2012 debut, Girls hasn’t left many viewers stranded in the middle of the road. If you’ve sat down long enough to get acquainted with Lena Dunham and her pseudo-worldly, doe-eyed clique of twentysomethings, you’ve likely drawn some pretty strong conclusions one way or the other. It’s easy to love the show for Dunham’s pretty spot-on take on the excitement and frustration that comes with starting adult life, but it’s just as easy to get worn down by the characters’ insufferable self-absorption.
Girls is a show driven by contradictions, but not in a bad way. As a show that documents the spectacular highs and soul-crushing lows that come with trying to find yourself in the post-collegiate world, it makes sense that it’s something of an emotional roller coaster. That said, how do you score a series that’s prone to frequent mood swings, often within the same episode? Diversity is the key, and Girls Soundtrack Vol. 2 boasts something for every occasion. It sizes up obnoxious party pop like Zero Dezire’s “It’s My Birthday (Remix)” alongside calming neo-folk from Father John Misty. It’s got a firm grip on the contemporary (Lily Allen and Jenny Lewis) without losing sight of elder statesmen (Beck and Oasis). Other tracks, such as Vampire Weekend’s perfectly Vampire Weekend-ish cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m Going Down”, hit a nice balance between the two.
Music supervisor Manish Raval demonstrates a keen ear for coloring the right scenes with the right music. Who better to muse over Hannah’s anxiety-induced breakdown than Daniel Johnston (“Life in Vain”)? When Hannah and Jessa get stood up by Jessa’s aloof father, the forlorn sounds of Aimee Mann’s “How Am I Different” strike an appropriate chord. We could grumble about some choice cuts from Thee Oh Sees, the Count Five, The Fall, Fiona Apple, and others that were left off the soundtrack, but Vol. 2 does a commendable job of trying to make sense of the show’s myriad emotions through song.
Essential Tracks: “I’m Going Down”, “Life in Vain”