Review: ‘Frozen 2’ soundtrack struggles in shadow of first

Various artists, "Frozen 2" (Walt Disney Records)

No, there’s no new "Let It Go." Let it go.

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The "Frozen 2" soundtrack brings together everyone’s favourite princesses — Elsa and Anna — the snowman Olaf, good guy Kristoff and his faithful reindeer, Sven, for an impossible task: improving or matching the first "Frozen" movie’s songs.

Songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez have offered seven — six, if we’re being honest — original songs and they’re all lovely, rooted in Broadway traditional structures and each playing a key role in keeping the animated film moving. None will spend 33 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts like "Let It Go" but they deserve to be cherished on their own merits.

The template hasn’t really changed. Like in the first, everyone gets a song — Josh Gad’s Olaf sings his comedic "When I Am Older," Idina Menzel gets the roof-raising (closest thing to "Let It Go") "Into the Unknown," Jonathan Groff’s Kristoff has the melancholy (and slightly reminiscent of a lost tune by the band Chicago) "Lost in the Woods" and Kristen Bell’s Anna closes it out with the mournful "The Next Right Thing."

But this time Evan Rachel Wood — as Elsa and Anna's deceased mother — sings "All Is Found" and joins Menzel on "Show Yourself." Norwegian singer Aurora lends the soundtrack a whole bunch of spooky ahhhs and ooooohs as a supernatural presence. One nice touch is all four leads singing together in the sweet "Some Things Never Change," which, with its refrain of "I’m holding on tight to you" is the inverse of "Let It Go."

We get a direct link to the first film with the song fragment "Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People (Cont.)" and it is awesome to hear Menzel’s voice in fifth gear again. But missing are the inventive lyrics from the first, the "frozen fractals all around" and "Bees'll buzz/kids'll blow dandelion fuzz." The lyrics this time are straightforward, less playful. It’s a more emotional album than the first, more mature and internal.

The album also includes remakes of three of the songs that play over the end credits. Panic! At The Disco superbly redo "Into the Unknown" into a glam rock song. Kacey Musgraves does a rootsy, almost Simon and Garfunkel version of "All Is Found" and Weezer does a very Weezer take on "Lost in the Woods." The whole album is wonderful, but it has unattainably big snowshoes to fill.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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