French supernatural zombie-ish meets Twin Peaks-ish TV show scored by post-rock OGs Mogwai? That sentence needs a lo-fi filter. Or a free trade sticker. Because it’s uber hip. Like, really.
Having shown that they can knock out a respectable score, in Zidane, a 21st century portrait, it’s more a case of if the titular show has enough substance to warrant a soundtrack by Scotland’s instru-eggheads. Sweden’s “The Killing” is a show that has gained a cult following in the UK, and after a couple of episodes of it, the only thing I can put it down to is; if you take any sort of semi supernatural mystery, set it against a misty backdrop and stick in subtitles, the cool factor increases tenfold. So is this soundtrack inspired by the show, or is it a move by the creators of the show to add some gravitas to it, among the same crowd who went apeshit over “The Killing”?
Right, so I watched a bit of the show, and it is indeed a beautifully shot, albiet sorta modern generic, curiosity. Frenchies are coming back from the dead, but not hellbent on chowing down on brains and flesh, just sorta hanging around and being a bit creepy, like that cat in that Stephen King book. Are the tunes that Mogwai put to it any good? Yes and no. Naturally there are sparse piano bits and pieces, that’s to be expected, really, but it’s when they go full Mogwai that shit gets cool. “Hungry face” wouldn’t feel out of place on one of their albums, discordant bass, almost distorted cello and xylophone filled out by the usual uncluttered drums. What’s clear over the course of the opening songs is that there was an obvious decision to unsettle instead of terrify, sonically. Tunes like “Jaguar” and “The Huts” feel quite restrained, then again on “This Messiah Needs…” It gets cool again, they’re back on point. That’s how this whole excercise feels to me. Like half of the songs were phoned in, scripts were glanced over and some of the incidental pieces were very much post rock by numbers, kinda frustrating when a song like “Special N” kicks in and brings it to pretty cheerful crescendo, then you’re back to listening to something that coulda been easily ripped from any JJ Abrams movie. Ends with a high note though, a cover of “What Are They Doing In Heaven Today”, the only song on here with vocals, and probably the best song on this soundtrack as a release.
A mixed, mixed bag. Doesn’t quite shit bananas, doesn’t quite take a shit on your chest either. Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth a listen, regardless of your interest in the TV show, but your friend who reads Pitchdork will probably say this is his favourite Mogwai record, the same as he says The Virgin Suicides soundtrack is his favourite Air record. There’ll be more supernatural TV shows that try to hook in the people who think Walking Dead isn’t cerebral enough, and doubtless more soundtracks by bands who wear their telecasters up around their tits, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they pretty much all sound like this.
Axl says “Decent”!
“What Are They Doing…” Music Video