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The Great Gatsby (Craig Armstrong)

November 23, 2013

Synchrotones’ Microtones Review… all of the opinion, less of the words.


Craig Armstrong, 2013, Polydor
17 tracks, 61:56

What is it? Baz Luhrman’s film set in the roaring 20s in which a Midwestern war veteran finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor. The release of Craig Armstrong’s original score followed several months after the film’s own release.

What does it sound like? The score sees Armstrong combining his dreamy violins and melancholy piano with several powerful and rip-roaring’ orchestral performances.  Fans of the composer will instantly recognise his signature harmonies. Armstrong skillfully works several songs (notably by The XX and Lana Del Rey) into the fabric of his score. The tracks featuring Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” are an emotional delight – “Hotel Sayre” is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. There are exquisite solos for cello and solo violin (in “Cello Theme” and “Dream Violin”, respectively – tracktitles never were Armstrong’s stong point). Absolute highlight of the album, and in fact the whole year, is the John Adamsesque “Let’s Go to Town”, with its propulsive rhythms and rousing finale. It’s stunner of a track and worth the purchase alone. Choir accompanies some of the latter cues to signal Gatsby’s death.

Is it any good? Thoughtful integration of Armstrong’s score with various songs. Heartfelt and emotional. A magnificent work.

Rating [4,5/5]

Review by Pete Simons, (c) Synchrotones

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