By now, the Twilight movies' soundtracks are their own micro-environments, nurturing new acts and extending the lives of old ones in an indie-centric bio-dome. Though artists as sonically diverse as Death Cab for Cutie, Bon Iver, and Muse have all gotten powerful boosts after feeding off Twilight's main vein, the albums' moods are as monochromatic as Bella's permanently gray-tinted Pacific Northwest wonderland. ''Jar of Hearts'' songstress Christina Perri's fantastically opulent ''A Thousand Years'' sets the tone for The Twilight Saga: Breaking DawnPart 1: stark acoustic strums, cascading strings, and a piercing croon expressing undying adoration. When angst-rockers Sleeping at Last attempt to hit the same notes on ''Turning Page,'' though, it only drives home how effective Perri's witchy confidence is.
Don't let the inclusion of a Bruno Mars song (the prettily woozy ''It Will Rain'') fool you into thinking that Dawn is a leap into pop-crossover diversity. If anything, this is the narrowest Twilight soundtrack yet: Even when the volume shifts from quiet to slightly less quiet, these weepy tunes about eternity and erotic mythical beasts grow wearisome.
Biting detours like the Noisettes' gospel-punk rave-up ''Sister Rosetta,'' the Belle Brigade's swamp blues ''I Didn't Mean It,'' and Theophilus London's twitchy ''Neighbors'' add thrilling heat that too quickly dissipates. If Breaking Dawn were a group's fourth album, it would be the stuck-in-a-rut release that nearly breaks up the band. Luckily, the blaze-of-glory retirement album Part 2 is waiting in the wings. B