As a teenager, I had a poster on my wall that said, "Music is heard with the ears, understood by the heart". I can't imagine that truer words have ever been spoken. Music sets a tone and can be adjusted for whatever mood one is or wants to be in. It can also add to or detract from television shows and commercials. In fact, one of the most useful tools of the film industry is music. If the score/soundtrack is good, it pulls us deeper into a scene but if it doesn't fit with what is happening on screen it becomes a distraction. Sometimes the music becomes a character of its own, enhancing the story and moving the plot along.
Every year the movie industry gives us one or two of these types of films (some of which are animated) and 2021 is no exception. This week, Last Night in Soho opens in theaters, and the score and soundtrack are both available for purchase. From fun fare to heavily orchestrated undertones, the music for this film is both memorable and haunting. The upbeat songs of the London scene in the 1960s give the story lightheartedness as Ellie first meets Sandie. Meanwhile, as the third act evolves, we can hear Steven Price's (Gravity) score become darker and more foreboding.
The score is newer, fresher, and more polished. There are some strings that, at first, uplift the viewer's mood as Ellie heads off to London filled with anticipation and excitement. However, by the end, those same strings reveal an evil that taunts Ellie as she tries to "free" Sandie from the hell she endured all those years ago. The orchestration also gives the ending the weight and heaviness it deserves. The score is full and robust with layers of instruments building to a somewhat explosive conclusion.
The soundtrack was a surprise but not necessarily for the reason, you may think. The sound is not as polished as the score but that is because the music chosen is from the 1960s in order to be authentic. The recordings, though remastered, have a scratching sound and a grittiness that reveals their age. While I heard some familiar songs, their arrangements were different than what I knew. It was a shock to discover that some of the songs I knew were remakes of older songs. Of course, Anya Taylor-Joy's rendition of Downtown, with its slow tempo and feeling of sadness is both magnificent and haunting.
It isn't often that a movie has a terrific soundtrack and an equally as strong score but thanks to Wright and Price, Last Night in Soho offers audiences both. Not only does the music fit the story but it also helps the viewer go on the roller coaster ride of Ellie and Sandie and how their lives have become inexplicitly entwined.
While these two entities are also available on vinyl, there is nothing quite like the sound of the near-perfection of digital. They are so good that they are able to stand alone, separate from the movie itself, and be judged for what they are…beautifully orchestrated and performed songs that deserve as many accolades as the film does. The clarity and depth of the songs make both the soundtrack and the score-worthy purchases.