The sound of ‘Saltburn’: five perfect noughties indie bangers in the film

The sound of ‘Saltburn’: five perfect noughties indie bangers in the film

In partnership with Warner Bros. UK

Saltburn, the dazzling second feature film directed by Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), begins at Oxford University in 2006. Ambitious scholarship boy Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) and popular posho Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) grow closer as they party hard to the indie bangers of the era. The film is packed with guitar riffs even spikier than the put-downs delivered by Felix’s smug cousin Farleigh (Archie Madekwe).

Later, Oliver joins Felix for a lazy summer at the Cattons’ lavish country estate, Saltburn. Here, he tries to win over Felix’s parents, Sir James (Richard E. Grant) and Elspeth (Rosamund Pike), while remaining wary of fellow guest Pamela (Carey Mulligan), whose days with the family seem to be numbered. The song choices slap just as hard in the Saltburn scenes, so here’s a guide to five vital noughties tunes you’ll hear as this delicious psychological thriller unfolds.

Girls Aloud – ‘Sound Of The Underground’

Released in 2002, Girls Aloud’s debut single is one of the defining pop songs of the noughties. Deftly blending drum and bass beats with surf guitar riffs, it’s an idiosyncratic banger that still sounds fantastic today – rising star Rina Sawayama recently hailed it as an influence. Back in 2006, Girls Aloud were the UK’s biggest girl group, so even Sir James might have a soft spot for them – something that probably makes his kids cringe.

Best for… playing at an Oxford bop – a big, school disco-style college party that takes place at the end of every term. The DJ will probably – definitely – follow it with Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’

MGMT – ‘Time To Pretend’

‘Time To Pretend’, the breakthrough hit by American psychedelic duo MGMT, became an indie disco staple when it dropped in the mid-noughties. In Saltburn, it soundtracks a blissful montage scene showing Oliver and the Catton clan lounging by the swimming pond on a hot summer’s day.

MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser wrote the song imagining a future of rock star excess: “Let’s make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.” But in a way, it also captures the idle privilege of the Cattons’ pampered lifestyle. Plus, as Elspeth will gladly tell you, she briefly worked as a model in the ’90s – before she settled down with Sir James, of course.

Best for… dozing off to after your third cocktail of the afternoon. The butler made them, so they were goddamn strong!


Bloc Party – ‘This Modern Love’

A highlight from Bloc Party‘s 2005 debut ‘Silent Alarm’, ‘This Modern Love’ captures all the awkward yearning of falling for someone. “And don’t get offended if I seem absent-minded, I get tongue-tied,” frontman Kele Okereke sings with an implied cringe. In Saltburn, this twitchy indie tune is used in an Oxford scene soon after Oliver and Felix become friends. Bloc Party’s jittery riffs and wistful melodies capture the swelling tension of the moment impeccably.

Best for… playing after you’ve been “chirpsing” someone at a student party. And yes, this lot are living in 2006, so they definitely do say “chirpsing”

The Killers – ‘Mr. Brightside’

You know this song – everyone knows this song. Even Felix, who hardly seems like an indie connoisseur, would have this song on his iPod (RIP). Released in 2003 as The Killers‘ debut single, it’s an anthemic banger that peaked at Number 10 in the UK singles chart. ‘Mr. Brightside’ has proved so enduring, though, that it’s now spent a record 385 weeks in the charts.

The song is actually about feeling jealous and insecure in a relationship – “And it’s all in my head, but she’s touching his chest now,” frontman Brandon Flowers sings, picturing his partner with someone else. But Felix doesn’t pay any attention to this lyrical anguish. He just thinks it’s a “bloody good tune”, and he’s absolutely right.

Best for… whacking on at top volume when Pamela has a melancholy moment

Cold War Kids – ‘Hang Me Up To Dry’

This bluesy tune cracked the UK charts in 2006, so it would sound box-fresh to Felix and his Oxford buddies. In fact, ‘Hang Me Up To Dry’ was so big on the indie scene that it was covered by another noughties icon: Kate Nash.

Cold War Kids’ original version is a perfect fit for the ever-changing emotional complexities of Fennell’s psychological thriller. “Now hang me up to dry – you wrung me out too, too, too many times,” frontman Nathan Willett sings as he looks back on a one-sided relationship. Several characters in this film can definitely relate.

Best for… listening to during a long soak in Saltburn’s freestanding bath – and yes, we do mean you, Oliver (if you know, you know)

‘Saltburn’ is in UK cinemas from November 17

The post The sound of ‘Saltburn’: five perfect noughties indie bangers in the film appeared first on NME.

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