By David Browne
July 14, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

The onslaught of spring and summer soundtracks is hardly unexpected. What is surprising is the degree of surrealism in this year’s crop. Not only will you hear U2 salute Batman and Annie Lennox serenade the splashdown of a space mission; you’ll find the even more out-there vocal stylings of Kevin Kline, Mel Gibson, and former M*A*S*Her David Ogden Stiers!

Batman Forever is a grab bag of pop and rock tunes without any sort of unifying theme. Much like the movie and its engulf-and-devour marketing strategy, the pop soundtrack (not to be confused with the instrumental-score disc) aims for the most diverse cross section of record buyers possible. How else to explain a hodgepodge that tosses together teeth-grinding alternative rocker PJ Harvey, rapper Method Man, mall punks the Offspring, teen R &amp B sensation Brandy, and INXS has-been Michael Hutchence? The result is so patchwork that even the few sharp songs (Seal’s previously released ”Kiss From a Rose,” the funky Brandy-Lenny Kravitz collaboration ”Where Are You Now?” and British pop thrush Eddi Reader’s ”Nobody Lives Without Love”) cancel one another out. Most disappointing is U2’s ”Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me,” a ”Desire”-gone-Zooropa rehash. B-

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