2018 Crome Yellow film scores

So many scores, so little time! As someone who mostly listens to scores, these selections transcend the films they’re attached to. There is a lot of brave experimentation going on, and I love how it’s changing the face of what we expect. 

Mandy Johann Johannsson vinyl soundtrack

Mandy by Johann Johannsson: “Better to burn out than fade away.” That line, uttered in Panos Cosmos’ EPIC film best describes the late Johannsson’s swan song. Watching the film I was utterly amazed by Johannsson’s heavy metal soundscapes but also in complete despair knowing that it would be the last we’d ever hear from him. Nevertheless, as his final work, the music here is astonishing, unlike anything he did up to this point, and something that will live forever. 

Themes for Television Johnny Greenwood

Themes for Television by Johnny Jewel: This is reportedly made up of unheard material from Twin Peaks: The Return, but man, does it still make for an amazing listen on its own. Jewel is the master at this type of sparkly atmosphere, with dense layers of synths conjuring up inexplicable imagery. The melodies are gorgeous, the textures are stunning. 

Jed Palmer soundtrack Upgrade

Upgrade by Jed Palmer: This one really took me by surprise. I knew that Leigh Whannell’s film was going to be incredible, but I had no idea that the score would be just as insane. Palmer’s score mirrors the film, in that it evokes a lot of classic genre work, but never feels like a reproduction. It’s a bold step in a new direction, using timeless ideas in new context.

Revenge Rob Soundtrack mondo vinyl

Revenge by Rob: At this point, Rob is just showing off. Coralie Fargeat created an inescapable feminist revenge thriller, and Rob gave it a lot of color. The music snakes in and out of each scene, providing powerful catharsis or pounding rhythms full of urgent tension. 

You Where Never Really Here Jonny Greenwood soundtrack

You Were Never Really Here by Jonny Greenwood: Though this film came out in 2019, it’s almost a sure bet that Jonny Greenwood worked on this during or close to Phantom Thread. That’s of course pretty incredible considering that both scores sound nothing alike. As opposed to jazzed up symphonic pieces, here, Greenwood experiments with tweaked out strings, driving beats and synths. Some tracks even feature arrangements that resemble a more rock approach. The score transforms over the course of the film, leaving us with something unpredictable. 

Destroyer soundtrack Theodore Shapiro

Destroyer by Theodore Shapiro: Shapiro’s score instantly stood out to me while watching Karyn Kusama’s latest sun-drenched noir. Shaprio blends distorted guitars, swirling string melodies and nightmarish soundscapes for something that’s wholly unique. The approach is not unlike what we’d hear in a horror film, transplanting an atypical solution where we’d least expect.

Annihilation soundtrack Salisbury Barrow

Annihilation by Ben Salisbury, Geoff Barrow: Coming off of their collab in Ex Machina, Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow have recalibrated, this time using acoustic guitars and folky melodies to offset their usual synth ambience. Of course, it’s an approach that makes total sense, given the film’s spliced-up story featuring techno-angst and biological body horror.

Infinity War Silvestri soundtrack

Infinity War by Alan Silvestri: How do you score one of the biggest movies ever made? You get Alan Silvestri, that’s how. Going bigger than he did in the original Avengers, Silvestri has given Marvel’s all-out epic dense soundscapes dripping with emotional cues and urgent themes. Rather than something more modern, Silvestri hews mostly to symphonic arrangements, deftly blending disparate tones, character themes and ideas with ease. This thing is a patchwork that we can’t ingest in one sitting. In all honesty, it yields something new with each listen. 

M:I Fallout Lorne Balfe soundtrack

Mission Impossible Fallout by Lorne Balfe: With Fallout being one of the most aggressive and muscular action films of the year, Balfe has given it an appropriate score. It’s unlike anything we’ve heard for the M:I films, using constantly shifting melodies and themes to keep up with the film’s breakneck pace. This thing is fast, loud and hits like a freight truck but still nails smaller, more intimate cues with artful restraint.

Suspiria Thom Yorke soundtrack

Suspiria by Thom Yorke: Having Yorke score this couldn’t have been a more inspired choice. Just like Luca Guadagnino’s approach, Yorke decided never to mimic what came before but forge a brave new path. It’s impressionistic, envelopes the film with genuine sadness and sticks in our brain with each haunting melody.

Maniac Dan Romer soundtrack

Maniac by Dan Romer: I was completely blown away by this show, and Romer’s soundtrack was something I kept racing toward after each episode. In a fitting way, what Romer did here is totally eclectic, bouncing disparate emotions, genres and approaches to create something continually fresh. I can’t get enough of his string arrangements though, which always blend tasteful sonic manipulation with stunning, poignant melodies. 

Widows Hans Zimmer soundtrack

Widows by Hans Zimmer: Though there are only a handful of cues with numerous variations, what Zimmer did here is amazing. It gets the blood flowing, evokes emotion without being obvious, and in context of the film, is so understated. Listening to it isolated, you realize how aggressive it is, but it’s tactfully used in context and doesn’t call attention to itself. 

Beale Street Britell

If Beale Street Could Talk by Nicholas Britell: Barry Jenkins’ film is a sensuous, passionate experience that washes over us in the most powerful way. So too is Nicholas Britell’s score. Britell’s delicate piano and swelling strings swing between jubilant, sad and hopeful, sometimes all at once. This is done in such a nuanced way, that we don’t often realize the shifting emotions at play.

The Favourite soundtrack

The Favourite by Various: There isn’t much new here, but perfectly curated section of tracks by Handel, Vivaldi, Bach and more are a knockout in context of the film. One standout is Luc Ferrari’s “Didascalies”, which acts as a motif and kicks us when we’re down.

Spider-Verse soundtrack Daniel Pemberton

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse by Daniel Pemberton: Probably the most groundbreaking score here, Pemberton’s work defies classification, just like the film. In the same way that the animation is layers upon layers of smart, contrasting techniques, so to is Pemberton’s score. Blending hip-hop scratches, funky beats and chopped-up orchestral work, this thing is pure joy to listen to, and stitches the film’s wild aesthetics together in a way that we can’t help but smile at.