It’s questionable as to whether or not the idea of being “good” is even applicable to the Absolutely Fabulous Soundtrack. The film, presumably, will follow the famed show and mine laughs from vanity and obscene consumerism, and it makes sense that a soundtrack would provide winking, or ironic compliments to such humour. However, without the context the film surely provides, the soundtrack is a fairly perplexing collection, melding together indie-pop, old blues tracks, and Kylie Minogue.
The sequencing of the record suggests that it isn’t necessarily intended to be listened to front-to-back. The first 6 songs (of 19) are really the only vaguely mainstream contemporary songs on the record. Dance-pop songstress La Roux puts in a good showing, with the track Sexotheque, taken from her most recent album, being a good match for Ab Fab, with its mixture of disco sonics and self-awarely retro lyrics. Santigold’s Can’t Get Enough of Myself also feels a good match for the show, with a playful melody contrasting with the biting sarcasm of the lyrics. Jason Derulo’s Get Ugly is unsurprisingly vapid and inane, but it’s at least fairly catchy.
One of the more interesting tracks is Kylie Minogue’s rendition of the Ab Fab theme music. She performs The Wheel’s On Fire in her typical synthpop style, replacing the pianos with synth bleeps. Unfortunately, she also jettisons much of the harmony in the original, performing with a more muted vocal take, and by extension, losing some of its cheesy fun.
The second half of the soundtrack is quite a strange beast, comprising of live tracks from “musical moments” in the film, old blues tracks, and vaguely gimmicky French pop songs, presumably for comic effect. Whilst Jue De Téléphone may lead to a funny moment in the film, divorced of context it feels more like filler than anything else, as though one is listening to a joke being formed, instead of simply enjoying the punchline. There is also a Score Suite at the close of the album, comprising the original music presumably used throughout the film. The majority of it comes across as something of a Bond-lite, with the tense shakers and echoed guitars that make up the music to many a generic spy-film.
Whilst the Absolutely Fabulous Soundtrack may have a purpose within its film, it’s a fitfully entertaining, largely confusing and dull album. Many tracks that one imagines are played for mere moments on screen are here in their entirety, and feel painfully out of place, and out of sync with the flavour of the show. The album is evidently something of a cash-in for the movie, but it fails to justify its own existence.