Latest reviews of new albums:
Rebel in the Rye
  • Composed by Bear McCreary
  • Sparks and Shadows / 2017 / 52m

A biographical film about the life of J.D. Salinger directed by Danny Strong, Rebel in the Rye is set during the World War II years and leads up to the publication of you know what.  Starring Nicholas Hoult as Salinger and featuring Kevin Spacey as his mentor, the film has only received a very limited release so far.   Talented composer Bear McCreary has described the score as being perhaps his most personal yet and when you hear “Innocence” – the main theme, which opens the album – it’s very easy to hear why.  Clearly owing a bit of a debt to To Kill a Mockingbird (the masterpiece of McCreary’s own mentor), it’s a gorgeous piece for piano, flute, strings, subtle brass and accordion, going off in its own direction melodically.  The composer has demonstrated his gifts in numerous areas so far in his career and this is a side to him that we haven’t heard too much of before – let’s hope we hear plenty more of it in future.

The secondary theme is introduced in the next cue, “Early Writing” – this one has a real buzz to it, a vibrant energy that’s done very cleverly.  But the composer adapts it in various ways signalling different emotional states – the most impressive being perhaps “Inspiration at War”, with a tragic air to it.  These classy orchestral sounds coexist through the album (but especially in the first half) with various big band swing cues – they’re originals, but sound very authentic.  It does give the album a rather curious flow, the dual personality not functioning that brilliantly as a listening experience, as impressive as each facet is individually.  One nice feature is the way McCreary uses piano to represent the typewriter through the orchestral cues, sometimes augmenting them with the sound of actual typewriter keys.  The score does become darker as it progresses, and the composer introduces much more modern, electronic sounds to accompany the orchestra – the Indian tint to some of it is quite interesting, though inevitably this isn’t as satisfying as the raw emotional power of that main theme.  Still – the highlights here are really very good, show a new side to Bear McCreary, and the album’s easy to recommend.

*** 1/2
Emotional, impressive new side to the composer | |

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