Recording information: Marlay Studios, North Hollywood, CA; Sleepwalker Studios, Studio City, CA.
Since Breaking Dawn is the final installment of the Twilight Saga, it's fitting that the film's soundtrack is dominated by ballads that feel like a long goodbye to Bella, Edward, and Jacob. Despite opening with Passion Pit's relatively cheery "Where I Come From" -- one of the more overt nods to the series' mostly happy ending -- songs such as Pop Etc.'s "Speak Up" and Iko's "Heart of Stone" define The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn's music with their breathy harmonies, spare instrumentation, and ultra-earnest tone. The set sometimes threatens to become too maudlin and monotonous, but Ellie Goulding's "Bittersweet" and Feist's "Fire in the Water" add a spark of creativity to the proceedings. Likewise, St. Vincent's mischievous "The Antidote," which isn't just the most straightforwardly rock song here, but also a good deal heavier than anything on her previous album, Strange Mercy, provides enough playfully sinister vibes to remind everyone that this is a film about vampires. Interestingly, Breaking Dawn is less star-studded than some of the previous Twilight Saga soundtracks, with the notable exception of Green Day, whose "The Forgotten" sounds a bit like an Americanized version of Oasis' "Don't Look Back in Anger." As with the other volumes of the series' music, however, this collection provides a surprisingly good showcase for female, indie-ish talent (though Reeve Carney's "New for You" and James Vincent McMorrow's "Ghosts" close the gender gap somewhat). While Breaking Dawn isn't one of the more dynamic Twilight Saga soundtracks, it is one of the more emotive ones, and just may help fans get some closure as one of the biggest film franchises of the 2000s and 2010s comes to a close. ~ Heather Phares