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Thumbsucker – Original Score (Tim DeLaughter / The Polyphonic Spree)

With 23 tracks, the soundtrack to the new Thumbsucker indie flick release speaks as a story all its own, but also sheds some light on the emotionally driven movie that’s expected to poke at the heart and soul of many movie goers…maybe even stir up some epiphanies.

What many don’t know is that the soundtrack actually does have a story all its own.

While working on the graphics for Elliott Smith’s single, “Happiness,” the film’s director and designer of album covers, Mike Mills, introduced the script to the late Smith. From there they planned to work together on the soundtrack; Mills believed that the ever beloved, eloquent and prolific songwriter could capture the main character’s mind and put it into song.


Mills’ keen sense was spot on, as in “Thirteen” and its heartfelt, adolescent perspective; “Trouble” is true Elliott essence, filled with beautiful pain; and “Let’s Get Lost” sparks visions of the young Justin, the film’s main character, a thumbsucking 17 year old, running in slow motion to escape the people and problems in his life.

What Mills didn’t foresee was losing Elliott, both as a partner in the project and as a friend. It was even difficult for him to listen to the music Elliot had written for him or to go through footage that had both gone through together in the editing room. Still feeling lost, he decided to attend a Polyphonic Spree show with a friend and was overwhelmed with the experience, with all their grandeur and larger than life presence. It was then that Mills saw the leader of the Spree pack, Tim DeLaughter as “the light at the end of the tunnel that I personally needed and the film needed.”

The other 20 tracks were then written and orchestrated by DeLaughter, from the various 20 or 40 second fade-out/fade-in interludes, the simplistic and instrumental “Empty Rooms,” the tranquil serenade of DeLaughter and his guitar on “Wonderful For You,” to the over-the-top, uplifting to the moon “Move Away and Shine,” complete with the Spree singers and all their wonderful kitchen sink musical utensils.

Do not adjust your set as the 30 minute “Acceptance” debuts as a short film with a song track. Tripping Daisy also makes an appearance on “Debate Montage” with a guitar hook and bridge that runs gloriously through your head, over and over.

The goal Mills set out to accomplish after leaving the Poyphonic Spree show was this: to have people feel the same way after seeing his movie as he felt after the show, inspired and happy. The essence of the film Thumsucker is portraying not only the flaws within people and in life, but that imperfection is freeing and a good thing. Knowing his personal struggles and accomplishments, I would say that opposed to others in the past, this time Mills really can tout “mission accomplished.”


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