Soundtrack Review: The Mitchells vs The Machines (2021)

Sony Music Masterworks has released The Mitchells vs. The Machines (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) with music by prolific composer, singer, multi-instrumentalist and co-founder of DEVO Mark Mothersbaugh. Now available everywhere, the album includes score music written by Mothersbaugh for the animated film, which follows an eccentric family in the middle of the robot apocalypse.  The soundtrack is the latest in a longstanding creative partnership between Mothersbaugh and film producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, having previously worked together on titles like The LEGO Movie, 21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and more.

Of the soundtrack, composer Mark Mothersbaugh had the following to say:

“Just thinking about working on this film during a once-in-a-century, world-wide pandemic makes you want to draw correlations between the story of the film and what was happening in this world (the so-called real world). Doing so really gave everything more meaning and added gravitas to an already amazing project to begin with. I will always remember this film for the added attention the pandemic allowed the directors and producers to bring to it, as we were able to work on an extended schedule. It gave us the rare chance to play with the parts, to get them just the way we wanted them and to make a dang-near perfect film!”

“’On My Way’ is a song about new beginnings. I really wanted to capture Katie’s sense of urgency to grow up and expand her horizons while still being grateful of where she has come from and the people that have gotten her where she is. It’s that push and pull of being on a path towards something new and exciting while remembering and celebrating what you’re leaving behind. I think that is something we can all relate to. ‘On My Way’ is one of my favorite songs I have ever worked on and I am so happy it has found a home in the wild world of the Mitchells,” adds singer-songwriter Alex Lahey of her inclusion on the soundtrack.

This soundtrack is a lot of fun to listen to. Mothersbaugh has created a delightful blend of several musical genres that make for a great experience. As near as I can make out, the music for The Mitchells vs The Machines is a blend of action music, sci-fi music, and family music. It’s really mind-blowing when the music switches over from the quiet-ish family music opening to the sci-fi music that enters when the robot apocalypse begins. That’s not the easiest transition to make given the wide disparity between those two styles, but Mothersbaugh makes it feel easy and the music pulls you along for the ride without hardly missing a beat.

The sci-fi music portion of the soundtrack is easily the best part (though it’s all good if I’m honest). It’s wild, it’s zany, you can almost picture what’s going on, it’s exactly what an animated robot apocalypse should sound like. What really surprised me though, is how quiet the soundtrack can be when the music isn’t focused on the robots. I won’t say if this is good or bad, but sometimes it feels like all of the energy is devoted to the music for the robot apocalypse, and the rest is just…quiet, soft, not as important (though I may be overthinking it).

All that being said, I can’t get over how much I love the way Mothersbaugh can switch between musical styles. There’s traditional instruments in there, there’s electronic music, there’s music that blends BOTH. This is a complex musical score, one that grows on you the more you listen to it. I certainly recommend listening to the soundtrack apart from the film if you get the opportunity.

Track List

  1. Columbia Opening / Apocalypse (1:15)
  2. Katie’s Life / Good Cop Dog Cop (3:17)
  3. Laptop Breaks / Home Movies (3:43)
  4. Rise of the Robots (1:30)
  5. Robots Falling from the Sky (1:25)
  6. Eat Laser Robots (1:15)
  7. Robots Capture Humans (1:36)
  8. On the Roof H (1:53)
  9. Two Dumb Robots (0:55)
  10. We Could Get Our Lives Back (0:13)
  11. Katie’s Speech (1:28)
  12. Drive Drive ! (2:07)
  13. Robots March on PAL (0:45)
  14. Foolish Human Air (0:53)
  15. Abandoned Mall ! (1:35)
  16. Mall Robots Attack (1:56)
  17. Furbies Attack_Router Knocked Out (3:29)
  18. Rick’s Pep Talk (2:21)
  19. The Stealthbots (1:21)
  20. Katie and Linda (1:56)
  21. Entering Robot City (3:05)
  22. The Pod Falls (0:51)
  23. They Capture Linda and Rick (0:57)
  24. Hiding in the Woods (2:36)
  25. Katie’s Video (1:52)
  26. Katie to the Rescue (2:03)
  27. Screwdriver Escape (1:47)
  28. Yub Tub (2:00)
  29. Linda Kicks Ass (1:35)
  30. Katie Explains (1:45)
  31. Katie and Rick Work Together (2:17)
  32. I’m a Mitchell! (0:44)
  33. Humanity Is Saved (1:17)
  34. Katie’s Dead (0:56)
  35. Arriving at College (2:32)
  36. On My Way – Alex Lahey (3:05)

Let me know what you think about The Mitchells vs The Machines and its soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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1 thought on “Soundtrack Review: The Mitchells vs The Machines (2021)

  1. Pingback: Going ‘On My Way’: A Brief Talk with Alex Lahey About ‘On My Way’ and The Mitchells vs The Machines (2021) | Film Music Central

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