Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Though early reports that director Trey Edwards Shults’ latest project would be a “musical drama” were swiftly debunked, there is some truth to the fact that Waves is, indeed, a very “musical” film. In his follow-up to paranoid horror It Comes At Night, Shults returned to his coastal Florida home for a story about the fickleness of teenager-dom, a drama bifurcated by a crisis that greatly impacts the life of an upper-middle class black family. Like the lives of many teenagers, Waves is a film constantly pulsing with music. When characters aren’t playing a track on their phones, a music cue is there to underscore their innermost emotions. And in between needle drops from artists like Tyler The Creator and Radiohead, there’s an immersive score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross ready to send you into a panic or offer a warm embrace. On the first weekend of Waves theatrical rollout, we sat down with Trey Edward Shults in Los Angeles to discuss the movie’s memorable soundtrack, song by song. During the chat, Shults revealed why music was such a crucial component of this story, explained how actor Kelvin Harrison, Jr. helped influence the soundtrack, and told us what makes Frank Ocean the perfect paragon for his characters’ vulnerability.

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