Film Score Friday: ‘Drive’ by Various Artists

Drive is an interesting film. I have not seen it yet, but I can tell that by its trailers, promotional one-sheets and now its score. The music strikes a very interesting tone that fits in with the minimalistic, and down right retro style we have seen from the movie thus far.

The film features a score by Cliff Martinez, an early Steven Soderbergh collaborator who has since developed an interesting filmography. The Martinez portion of this score is pretty solid across the board. I enjoy the retro, almost electronic sound the score boasts.

It is almost like a minimalist version of the Tron: Legacy score, My only reservation of his music is that it is pretty one note. I don’t know that I could pick one track from another if I wasn’t looking at a track list.

The other major portion of this soundtrack is a selection of tracks by several different artists. This portion of the sound track was very enjoyable during the first couple tracks, but became mildly repetitive as it moved along. Really shining a light on the real problem on this who soundtrack, repetitiveness. I love the general sonic landscape this score is selling, but as an album I don’t know if it stands well on it’s own.

So at the end of the day, as a reviewer of film scores, you must ask yourself one question. What matters more, how a soundtrack plays in a film or how it sounds on the album? Early on in this review series I made the call that “how it plays on the album” was the more important factor. So with that in mind I am forced to point out the fact that this soundtrack lacks any variety, or hook that urges me to listen more.

Of course that isn’t to say the music is bad, I really enjoy the basic retro/electric sound of the whole thing. My only main issue is that the music bleeds into itself far to much. One track sounds almost exactly like another, and often times obvious transitions in song happen mid track, while the albums track breaks sometimes hinder the flow of a good track.

I think my basic concern is that in a simplistic score like this, the album needs more attention, because in this form I am not sure many people will enjoy it as a listening experience solo. I think the music is evocative, and it makes me want to see the movie all the more, but at the end of the day I don’t know what scenario I would be in that calls for putting this score on.

Three Favorite Tracks:

Night Fall by Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx: This is the opening track on the soundtrack and it is stellar. This track takes all of the retro, 80s stylings that this album has to offer and presents it in one awesome track that sets a perfect mood for the album. I also think that this represents the first major mistake of the album. I don’t think this track is right for the opener. Over all I think the soundtrack should have been divided by song placement in the film itself. As it stands now you get the 6 or 7 non score tracks followed by all of the Martinez stuff.

Tick of the Clock by Chromatics: This is an awesome track. On it’s own it might be the one that I listen to the most out side of this album. All of the tension this score has been building up to this point finally gets a bit of a payoff. There is so much energy and excitement in this track that I couldn’t stop dancing to myself after the music stopped. Excellent music, and it is good foreshadowing to what the rest of the album has to offer.

Bride of Deluxe by Cliff Martinez: The one score track that jumped up and slapped me in the face was the last track on the album. This is some of the most energetic, exciting and down right fun music on the album. My assumption is that this plays during the credits, or perhaps a final scene. If that is indeed the case, than major props to the music department. One of the most important things for a film is to leave it’s audience excited and hungry for more. The best way to do that is to find a captivating piece of music (like this) and play it loud and early!

Least Favorite Track:

Skull Crushing by Cliff Martinez: Now this is not to say it is bad music, only it is very single noted, and for one of the longer tracks on the album it certainly dwells a little to much on some of the simpler sounds. I don’t want it to sound like I don’t enjoy simple music, I just think the single tone sound that is predominant in this track is a little pout of place in toady’s film music world. In the end it is just to much tone and not enough actual compelling music.

It is hard to put Drive below average in the score. On one hand, I think the album is a little weak, but on the other it has a solid consistency across all the tracks. I think in the end I rate this one slightly above average, in honor of the quality music that was put into this album, even if it was stretched too thin and barely used to it’s full potential.

Final Score for Drive:

3.0 out of 5

  • Chris Ullrich
    September 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Saw the movie. Loved it. Also, loved the soundtrack. It really helped enhance the enjoyment of the film and fit it perfectly. Recommend.

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