Audio Mixer: Greg Koller.
Recording information: Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA.
It may be a little glib to call This Is 40 Judd Apatow's stab at a Cameron Crowe soundtrack, but there's some truth to that. His lead character as portrayed by Paul Rudd is a music manager who somehow wants to push a comeback by Graham Parker -- a move that's a little odd, as if Rudd was truly 40 in 2012, his high school Graham Parker album would have been The Mona Lisa's Sister, making him a guaranteed outcast in 1988 -- but it isn't just that Apatow's lead is music-obsessed, it's that his newly commissioned music speaks to the themes of his film. Lindsey Buckingham, Norah Jones, Fiona Apple, Loudon Wainwright III, and, yes, Parker himself, contribute new songs to the soundtrack, all based on the film's theme of reconciling immaturity with middle-age. All the sounds and themes interlock, with some artists tackling adulthood directly (Buckingham's "Sick of You") and others having a bit of a laugh (Jones' tongue-in-cheek "Always Judging"). A few of these songs have been heard before -- Paul McCartney's instrumental oddity "Lunchbox/Oddsox," Paul Simon's perceptive "Rewrite," Wilco's "I Got You (At the End of the Century)" -- but they fit in with the newer tunes here. And the artists don't toss off their contributions, either: Buckingham's three songs are all very good, with Jones acting as an effective Stevie Nicks foil on "Brother & Sister," Fiona Apple's "Dull Tool" wonderfully mimics the carnivalesque cavalcade of Extraordinary Machine, and Graham Parker & the Rumour's "Watch the Moon Come Down" nearly bests anything on their very fine 2012 reunion Three Chords Good. There's little question that This Is 40 is lifestyle music, music made for and by upwardly mobile indie refugees, but it's funny, perceptive, and moving, the best of its breed. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine