I understand the criticism about how the pieces on this soundtrack sound underdeveloped. After all, we have tracks here that last only seconds long--"Postcard" is only twenty-two seconds long. It is difficult to listen to individual tracks alone and feel satisfied, unless you listen to the few swing and rock numbers interspersed throughout. But if you listen to the way this soundtrack is arranged in its entirety, you have to at least ask if the producer of the soundtrack didn't arrange so intentionally.
Some of these pieces enter abruptly, without a gradual introduction or fading in, such as "Phone Call." And some of these pieces, such as "Row," exit abruptly, as though you were in the middle of listening to it on your CD player and someone accidentally tripped over the cord and knocked the player out of commission. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if the producers wanted to that they could have made smoother transitions between the tracks, by either sustaining the ending or fading in the beginning.
This soundtrack, as far as I can understand it, exists as a whole, and can be appreciated best if listened to as such. It complements the movie very well. The abruptness of the pieces, the seemingly fragmented ideas, the strange mixes of swing, rock, Indian, and jazz genres all reflect the flitting in and out of ideas that go through the head as we sometimes search to remember things. The ideas come in fragments, in different colors and sizes; we remember things from different times, putting them together in wrong order, etc.; much like how Joel Barish was doing in the movie when he was trying to save his memory. I wouldn't be as satisfied with this soundtrack if it were done in the traditional sense of putting together a fully developed suite.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that I wouldn't be satisified if the pieces here were fully developed. Heck, I wouldn't have even thought of the idea of arranging the music the way it is here had this soundtrack existed in the traditional manner. But after having heard this arrangement, I would be less satisfied otherwise.
And, as though to clue us in on their intentions, the producers bring us the tracks in a different order than their occurences in the movie (just as how the movie moved along not in a timely order), including giving us songs that were not in the movie. There's a song here called "Strings that Tie to You," which occurs in the middle of the soundtrack. I don't ever remember it being played prominently in the movie. But here, it is a key song, because its lyrics are the most relevant of all to the movie. The lyrics describe exactly how one would feel before going through with the erasing procedure described by the movie. The ending number on this soundtrack is "Elephant Parade." "Elephant Parade" lasts twenty-six seconds, and in the actual movie, it doesn't come even close to being near the end. But here, they put it last . . . because the tune it plays echoes the song "Strings that Tie to You." It takes you right back into the middle of the arrangement of this soundtrack. It echoes as memories do. It echoes in a manner reconstructed; not quite accurately. The last note is even withheld, to give us a sense of incompletion. But it echoes nonetheless. I don't think anyone can doubt that the placement of at least those two tracks is intentional. "Elephant Parade" may sound like a short, incomplete fragment. It may not be the most satisfying possible track to end the soundtrack. But placed at the end the way it is, I wouldn't have it any other way.