With some films, you could be forgiven for walking out of the cinema afterwards having not even noticed its score or soundtrack. Drive, however, is not one of those films. The music in Drive is just as important a part of the film’s composition as any other (as it should be) and perfectly reflects the tone and milieu of one of the god damn coolest films released in quite a while. Everything about Drive oozes cool and a big part of that is thanks to its soundtrack, perfectly capturing the retro flavour the film portrays.
The soundtrack starts off with four ‘proper songs’ before heading off into the score, and although the distinction between the songs and score is an obvious one, the feel and atmosphere continues seamlessly. It kicks off with a superbly grimy electronic track, ‘Nightcall’ by Kavinksy and Lovefoxxx (you might recognise her from CSS), layering lighter female vocals over a heavy synth track, and continues in similar style with the following two track, ‘Under Your Spell’ by Desire and ‘A Real Hero’ by College and Electric Youth. Next is a bit of a curveball with Riz Ortolani’s ‘Oh My Love’, featuring his wife Katyna Ranieri. This wouldn’t sound out of place as the big love song on a Broadway stage and stands out a mile from the rest of the tracks. On its own it’s a bit of an oddity but it somehow works next to everything else and rounds things of nicely before the score kicks in.
The first track of the score is ‘Tick of the Clock’ by The Chromatics and has a certain 16-bit quality to it, again harking back to the good old days of yesteryear. The rest of the score is composed by Cliff Martinez (former drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and he’s done a fantastic job of carefully blending soaring, uplifting melodies with sinister undertones.
Some tracks grab your attention more than others; some you may pass you by completely on the first few listens, but on the whole it’s a superbly atmospheric score that captures the feel of the film perfectly. As with the majority of (all?) film scores, it’s a huge advantage if you’ve seen the film first – would anyone buy a soundtrack without seeing the film first? With Drive, if you’ve seen the film you can pinpoint a lot of the tracks, which really helps to transport you back to the film’s multiple standout moments – and all the sections in between.
All in all, Drive’s soundtrack is one of the most significant parts of the film and really help make it what it is. It does a great job of cementing the film’s retro tone whilst perfectly charting The Driver’s actions and conflicts through to conclusion. If you’re a fan of Drive, the soundtrack is likely one of the reasons why and is a lesson to filmmakers on how to enthrall your audience aurally as well as visually.
Words: Chris Thomson