Sherlock: Series 3 Soundtrack Review
Series Two’s soundtrack was hard to topple. Prepared to Do Anything, among others were all unparalleled masterpieces. David Arnold and Michael Price are talented men but even I’d be surprised if they managed to beat such an illustrious track record. Today’s question: did they?
It opens up with the first track from The Empty Hearse, How it Was Done (or supposedly). With its clapping, electric rhythm, it sounds a little like something from Torchwood. It’s less violin-based, giving the new series a more pop music-esque feel, whilst still encompassing the classic Sherlock leitmotif. The soundtrack then starts to slow down. You get God Rest His Soul and Floating Dust; quieter, more delicate tracks with an air of vulnerability and mystery. Even #Sherlocklives, to an extent, complies with the pattern – it has its denser and more startling moments, but keeps a low key, whilst the title is a cheeky reference to how times have moved forward since the last soundtrack (could be called Curse of the Deadly Hashtag). Back to Work is of the same ilk. It’s fun and has that ‘investigative’ feel, but at the same time it retains the elegant stillness of its predecessors.
Suddenly you’re blown back into the classic mystery and electricity of Sherlock. There’s Vanishing Underground, a suspenseful, Hounds of Baskerville-esque piece – and then the stimulating John is Quite a Guy, a staggeringly dramatic variation of The Game is On. Prepared to Do Anything makes a return in Lazarus which, though similar to the original, feels perhaps slightly more revealing. There are some key changes which throw you, because you forget it’s not the Series Two soundtrack.
Something that grabs me this year is how much diversity the two composers have packed into the space of three episodes. They move fluently between the three stories, yet the themes and tone of each is distinct from the other. Whilst The Empty Hearse is noticeably softer, The Sign of Three is, in short, strange. The opening track is quite ambitiously titled Lestrade – The Movie (something most of us wouldn’t mind seeing) and it has a story. Amid the hasty build-up of instruments, the narrative is cleverly embedded in the piece. To Battle does a bit of everything, and Stag Night is one of the most bizarre things you’ll ever hear. It switches from a ‘Dubstepped’ The Game is On to a drunken clash of instruments that has a vague connection to The Game is One, but even less so than the Dubstep. It’s a clever touch, considering the nature of the scene. Mayfly Man is unnerving yet simple; one of the standout aspects of the episode. And for the second year in a row, Sherlock is back composing, with the beautiful Waltz for John and Mary; somewhat reminiscent of Irene’s Theme from last series.
Charles Augustus Magnussen’s theme is the darkest there is but builds up into a fast, pounding sequence that feels distinctly classic. It returns again in Appledore, where the clash of notes arouses something quite unsettling.
The rest of His Last Vow’s soundtrack is quieter and more piano-based than any of the previous episodes. Each track follows a similar structure but has varying elements which distinguishes it as its own. The Problems of Your Future is especially powerful, as are Redbeard and Addicted to a Certain Lifestyle, perhaps because they’re so plainly suggestive of the terrific episode which they originated from.
To finish off, here are Cult Fix’s Top Five tracks from the soundtrack:
5. How it Was Done
A catchy, rhythmic tune which brought a powerful and captivating start to the series.
4. Major Sholto
A track that does a few things and one which I fear will grow to become an underrated gem. It’s adrenaline-charged with a military-like melody which becomes present each moment the tempo drops.
3. John is Quite a Guy
A faster-paced, heavier take on the end motif from The Game is On, John is Quite a Guy moves swiftly from mild eeriness to full-scale madness. On initial watch, it was one of the most powerful tracks and most people will be able to recall it.
2. The East Wind
It competes with Prepared to Do Anythingas a ‘big’, unforgettable end-of-series track and exceeds it in terms of pathos. You can feel Sherlock and Mycroft’s agony through the layer of strings and vocals which are so enchantingly harmonised that you could listen for hours on end.
1. The Lie in Leinster Gardens
In one word: haunting. There are elements from the theme tune as the vibrating chords change emotively between Am and Fm – musicians here will know that you’re in for a poignant sequence. The blend of instruments is perfect. It’s not bombastic, and the emotion doesn’t feel contrived. But the scene wouldn’t be anywhere as good without it, and it’s undoubtedly my favourite piece of music at the moment. It’s hard to grow tired of. I can say much the same for the album itself. In answer to my earlier question: yes, my expectations were exceeded. No doubt Series Four will do exactly the same…