Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Radio Sunnydale

Released in 1999, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Album was the official soundtrack to the series, while 2002's Once More With Feeling was the soundtrack to the peerless musical episode with the same name. Which makes 2003's Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Radio Sunnydale...what? A cash-in attempt for a cult series that's now off the air, but still retains its devoted audience? Cynics could argue that, but they'd be wrong since the album does indeed collect songs that were featured on the program -- hence the subtitle "Radio Sunnydale," an indication that these tunes did function as background music in Buffy's hometown. Also, Mutant Enemy has yet to rip off its loyal fan base, and this is no exception to the rule -- it's a fine, logical soundtrack that's faithful to the feel and sound of the series, and functions as a good, solid alt-rock collection on its own terms. As Buffy music supervisor John King points out in his liner notes (Buffy creator Joss Whedon contributes his own set, as well), the first Buffy soundtrack covered seasons one through four with this covering five through seven, the final three in the series' run. Like the preceding soundtrack, this isn't heavy on hits or big names -- Blur and Sarah McLachlan are the sales titans here, with Joey Ramone, Aimee Mann, and the Breeders, who do a wonderful version of the title theme, being the cult favorites; the rest of the soundtrack consists of names who are barely known -- but it sustains a consistent mood, one that conjures up Sunnydale in an instant. True, it's the kind of thing that's targeted directly at the show's faithful, but that's also what's good about it: by taking their fans seriously, the Mutant Enemy bunch has produced another soundtrack that lives up to the series' legacy, which, as most TV soundtracks illustrate, is a difficult thing to do. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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