George Fenton seems to have developed a rather odd three-way niche in his output in recent years, almost exclusively concentrating on music for BBC nature documentaries, Ken Loach social dramas and romantic comedies. The first offer up rich, luxurious orchestral treats; the second and generally low-key (and generally unheard-on-CD); and then there are the rom-coms, the latest of which is the poorly-received The Bounty Hunter, directed by regular Fenton collaborator Andy Tennant. There are few surprises here, really – piano, guitars, plucked strings – the music travels along a path which has been trodden many times before. There are some pleasant themes and of course the orchestral writing is distinguished, but it’s a little hard to get particularly excited by it.
The one note of surprise is the slightly more hard-edged “action” music (inverted commas used because it may be stretching the term a little). Electric guitars and drums dominate and it’s good fun. Ultimately though, it’s hard to escape the notion that the music is really a case of Fenton going through the motions – he’s such a fine film composer, he could do this sort of thing in his sleep. It’s all perfectly fine and is never anything less than pleasant – Fenton fans will undoubtedly enjoy it. The problem is the feeling that Fenton really could and should be doing so much more than scoring romantic comedies – whether it’s through his own choice or simply a case of not being offered other films I have no idea, but the days of Dangerous Beauty and Anna the King (or even Valiant) are starting to feel rather a long time ago. This album is one of the Amazon “on-demand” releases (which effectively means it’s only a CDR), also available through iTunes. A pity his stunning music for the BBC’s Life hasn’t been released yet in any form – easily the finest television music since Planet Earth. The Bounty Hunter is OK but let’s hope Fenton doesn’t have to reign himself in so much for too much longer. ***