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The Sweeney
  • Composed by Lorne Balfe
  • Rhino Records / 2012 / 61:23

Based on the popular 1970s British tv series starring John Thaw and Dennis Waterman, 2012’s The Sweeney stars Ray Winstone and Ben Drew as the veteran and rookie member respectively of the Police unit in London responsible for tackling violent crime.  The music is provided by Scottish composer Lorne Balfe, who the director says was hired based on the strength of his work on the Sherlock Holmes films.  Strangely enough, I’m pretty sure those scores were credited to Hans Zimmer, but I won’t reopen those old wounds.  And anyway, The Sweeney sounds nothing like either of them; rather, it’s the child of Inception (also credited to Hans Zimmer), making little attempt to disguise its lineage – even Johnny Marr is here providing the guitar solos.

There’s a big chunk of action music – the string arpeggios, horn blasts, grinding percussion and wailing guitar all very familiar from the previous score.  It’s more a continuation of the sound than a repeat of specific material, though.  There is some new stuff here, too – I love the synth part of “Trafalgar Square”, one of the album’s most dynamic pieces, conveying darkness and a gritty determination but plenty of excitement at the same time.  It’s not all-out action – at times Balfe takes a backward step and offers more contemplative material.  “Fog Horns” opens with a gritty soundscape (electric guitar over a wash of synths) that conveys a sense of desperation that is pretty impressive (before its second half goes more into rather more standard crash-bang-wallop action).  It’s not all to my taste – a couple of the score tracks don’t really seem to go anywhere, and the remixes and reimaginings of the theme from the original series (a fantastic piece by Harry South) are uniformly abominable – but I’m surprised by how enjoyable this is, a vibrant and edgy modern action score that doesn’t at any point sound like John Powell.  The album’s only been released in the UK so far but I’m sure will follow elsewhere in the world and it’s worth giving a go – particularly, obviously, if you like the sound of Inception.  ***

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  1. Mastadge on Saturday 22 September, 2012 at 12:45

    Lorne Balfe …. composer: additional music
    Lorne Balfe …. score producer

    on both Sherlock Holmes movies.

    Anyway.

    Thanks for the review. I’ll look forward to this making its way to iTunes US so I can pick from the highlights!

  2. James Southall on Saturday 22 September, 2012 at 13:19

    Odd to pick someone for a film based on “additional music” though…

  3. LP on Sunday 23 September, 2012 at 09:46

    Lorne got the job based on his musical contributions as heard in his composer promo.

  4. James Southall on Sunday 23 September, 2012 at 12:21

    …not according to the director!

  5. Jason Farcone on Friday 5 July, 2013 at 17:07

    james my man why have you not reviewed this instead dEAr sIR?