Like letting the living dead loose in unsuspecting suburbia, having current indie rock acts reinterpret classic hits of the '50s for a videogame soundtrack seems like a recipe for disaster.
And yet, with a few exceptions, Stubbs the Zombie: The Soundtrack works surprisingly well. Like the game itself, the tracks combine elements of rock classicism and modern experimentalism, breathing new life into old tunes while introducing still-stellar standards to a new audience.
Among the standouts, Swedish duo The Raveonettes' crunchy version of My Boyfriend's Back, The Walkmen's lo-fi take on There Goes My Baby, Clem Snide's jittering pop cover of Tears on My Pillow, and Milton Mapes' guitar-bruised reading of Lonesome Town.
It is the album's marquee acts, though, that seem unable to deliver on the concept's promise. Death Cab for Cutie turns in an uninspired Earth Angel, and the usually unassailable Flaming Lips fails to thrill with an oddly out-of-place If I Only Had a Brain.
Still, weak links aside, Stubbs is a collection that functions surprisingly well. Perhaps it's the conceptual link, perhaps the talent obvious in even the weakest tracks, but the ebb and flow of these 13 tunes work remarkably well. Is it required listening? Probably not. Is it a particularly fine selection of tunes for an afternoon whiled away in front of the Xbox? You know it.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The title: Stubbs the Zombie: The Soundtrack - Various (Shout! Factory)
The verdict: * * * out of * * * * *
Hear this: Listen to the Raveonettes' version of My Boyfriend's Back online at augustachronicle.com/applause.