New York singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson may be familiar to many, seeing as her existing infamy is based on being one half of acerbic so-called 'anti-folk' duo The Moldy Peaches who made ripples around the turn of the century with taboo-provoking pared-down romps against this, that and the other. It might be a surprise to find her ramshackle and largely solo performances heading up a film soundtrack, but to Juno's independence and understated qualities she turns out to be a remarkably good fit. She's mellowed a little with age perhaps, but then to counter that claim take the track "Loose Lips"; she rallies through a nonchalant stream-of-consciousness rant against such adversaries as President Bush, the Iraq war and self-harm/suicide, curling out blunt matter-of-fact lines like "call me up before you're dead, we can make some plans instead," that in the simple is as simple does context she provides resonate beautifully. Hardly lightweight then, but far from coarse or unwieldy. Like the film itself, she handles issues with straightforward clarity, an ambling pace and effortless humour. And to complete the soundtrack, a couple of typically twee compositions from Belle & Sebastian, The Kinks' "A Well Respected Man", Sonic Youth's excellently woozy cover of The Carpenter's "Superstar", the Velvet Underground's daft as elastic "I'm Sticking with You" and Cat Power (the queen of ramshackle) with the fragile "Sea of Love", make this a delightfully humbling listen. --James Berry
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Music plays a key part in Juno, the way-too-charming indie comedy directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody. Juno, the pregnant teen of the title role, isn't just a kid who loves rock & roll; she and her boyfriend Paulie Bleeker play guitars together, the adoptive father of Juno's kid is a recovering grunge rocker who toured the world and elsewhere in 1993, and Reitman punctuates the film with songs, both classic rock and precious twee folk tunes from Kimya Dawson, formerly of the Moldy Peaches. Some might say that the sickly sweet songs of Dawson don't fit comfortably alongside the Kinks, Mott the Hoople, and Sonic Youth's cover of the Carpenters' "Superstar," but a large part of the appeal of Juno is how the world-weary sarcasm of Gen-X rubs against the unapologetic quirkiness of Gen-Y, and the soundtrack reflects that almost more than the movie, as the Dawson songs are even more prominent on this 19-track album than within the 90-minute movie. This may not be to everybody's taste -- many found the twee tunes irritating, not charming -- but anybody who loved the movie completely will find the Juno soundtrack just as witty and warm as the film itself.