Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Various Artists

This soundtrack album for the beautifully animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse keeps to the aesthetic of that high-school comic-book movie with the mellow beats and catchy melodies of modern hip hop. Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower” is a standout with its bubbly synths and feel-good rhythm, and it’s a perfect fit as what Miles Morales would listen to because, you know, it’s what we all started listening to. From the analog electronic roar that kicks off the album, Blackway and Black Caviar craft a brilliant hard rock track with “What’s Up Danger”, full of aggressive, desperate vocals, threatening instrumentation, Dorian mode mixture, and inspiring, anthemic percussion; that kind of hard rock work persists across the album, especially in the guitars of Jaden’s “Way Up” and the dark harmonies of Lil Wayne, Ty Dolla $ign, and XXXTENTACION’s “Scared of the Dark” (which mirrors the work on X’s own album, ?). Duckwrth and Shaboozey’s “Start a Riot” and DJ Khalil and ensemble’s “Elevate” are also hype as can be, supplementing their rock chords with great atonal effects and Phrygian trap sounds. While I love banging my head to this kind of rap, the ballads on the album keep it anchored, and you’ve gotta love the busy electronic drums of Thutmose’s “Memories” and Juice WRLD and Seezyn’s “Hide”. Especially on Amine’s “Invincible”, those held-out vocals create unique suspensions and beautiful harmony. There’s so much emotion on this album, too; you can hear the longing in Beau Young Prince’s beautiful vocals on “Let Go”, and the violin and piano on that track are just so perfect. I wish they’d included Xenia Pax’s “Want It Here”, Elliphant’s “To the End”, and some of the other songs from Daniel Pemberton’s incredible score (especially “Catch the S Train”, “Spider Man Loves You”, “Miles Morales Returns”, and “Are You Ready to Swing?”, which you can hear on the score album), but every song on this album is great and it serves as a snapshot of 2018’s best hip hop.

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