Latest reviews of new albums:
The Morning Show
  • Composed by Carter Burwell
  • Lakeshore / 51m

The flagship show for the launch of Apple tv+, The Morning Show is a surprisingly nuanced look into #metoo horrors on a tv show. It’s very slick and expensive (the budget for all the Apple products on display must exceed that of some small countries) and not entirely successful, but certainly worth watching. The show nabbed quite a composer, too, enticing Carter Burwell into working on episodic tv for the first time. Frankly a lot of key scenes are underscored with songs so he has to work his way around those to find interesting things to say – he does this to a degree but even this relatively brief album does expose the fact that sometimes his brief was just to write low-key underscore for low-key scenes.

There is a very distinct instrumental palette which runs through the whole score – piano and bass are always present, frequently accompanied by synths. I would hesitate to say the score ever moves beyond being very subtle but Burwell does manage to generate a range of feelings. The opening “Waking Up Dead” focuses the two featured instruments very well; the bass also runs right through “Who Else Knew?” but that is a much darker track, with frantic percussion and murky synths reflecting the uncomfortable goings-on. That is followed by “Alex Alone” where we feel just what the title suggests – this is one of Burwell’s few concessions to straightforward human feeling, with him concentrating more on the higher-level, mixed emotional state of the ensemble as a whole (and just about everyone is a real shade of grey – this is not a drama with black and white characters except at the very end of the final episode). The music goes jazzier at times which is where it gets closest to suggesting the buzz of a tv production – “Are We Doing This?” perhaps the pick of that style. Much of the album’s life comes in the last few tracks. “A Mournful Morning” – for solo piano – is a very dramatic piece, quite powerful, and “Make It Loud” sees the string section make a rare appearance. The biggest and brightest track is the last one, “This Is The Morning Show”, which is really upbeat and satisfying. The album also features Rozzi Crane’s cover of “Creep” which features in the show. I’m not quite sure what’s going on with the album release (it only seems to be available on Apple Music even though it’s listed as being on Lakeshore Records) so you might not be able to hear it very easily. It takes a few listens to really appreciate what Burwell’s doing, but I would think fans of the composer will be pleased if they put the effort in.

Rating: ***

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  1. James Southall (Reply) on Saturday 4 January, 2020 at 16:11

    Burwell’s website (which is absolutely fantastic, by far the best film composer website) as ever features his thoughts on the score, which are interesting reading (much more than my review):
    http://www.carterburwell.com/projects/The_Morning_Show.shtml