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Composed by
DANNY ELFMAN

Rating
* * * 1/2

Album running time
59:38

Performed by
UNNAMED ORCHESTRA
led by
GAVYN WRIGHT
conducted by
NICK INGMAN
Vocalists
ALBERT FINNEY
JOANNA LUMLEY
TRACEY ULLMAN
PAUL WHITEHOUSE
DANNY ELFMAN
JANE HORROCKS
PAUL BAKER
ALISON JIEAR
GARY MARTIN
HELENA BONHAN CARTER
ENN REITEL

Orchestration
STEVE BARTEK
EDGARDO SIMONE
DAVID SLONAKER

Engineered by
DENNIS SANDS
Music Editors
MIKE HIGHAM
SHIE ROZOW
Produced by
DANNY ELFMAN

Released by
WARNER SUNSET
Serial number
49473-2

Artwork copyright (c) 2005 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall

 

CORPSE BRIDE

Terrific but very familiar Elfman fantasy

A review by JAMES SOUTHALL

Tim Burton and Danny Elfman were simply born to work with each other - their deeply dark humour combined with more than a dash of old-fashioned sentimentality seem so similar, Elfman always writes perfect music for Burton's films.  Perhaps, though, Elfman has begun to run a little stale in terms of coming up with fresh ideas for the director's increasingly familiar-seeming films.  Corpse Bride, Burton's second stop-motion film (after The Nightmare Before Christmas) does little to dispel that notion.  It's Elfman's second score for the director in a very short space of time, after the inspired Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (no real problems with that one) and to be honest, maybe his creative juices just ran a little dry.

This is being rather harsh, because this is terrific music - Elfman could score this sort of thing in his sleep - but maybe that's the problem.  The female chorus, the gothic-sounding organ and harpsichord, the dashing string runs, even the zany songs - it's all very predictable, almost like a patchwork quilt of earlier Elfman/Burton scores (particularly Christmas, Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice).  It's debatable how much of a problem this is, in terms of enjoying this album - the music is complex and quite delightful at every stage - it's just that to the seasoned Elfman collector, there is bound to be a pretty strong sense of dja v.  Let's start with those songs - there are four of them here, and each is a treat.  "According to Plan" is a witty number, highlighting a witty duet between Albert Finney and Joanna Lumley, but stolen by Paul Whitehouse doing an amusing impression of London's mayor Ken Livingstone (something which will surely not be appreciated by the majority of people who hear it - which makes it seem all the more funny to me).  The vocalists pretty much speak, rather than sing, but with the dashing musical accompaniment it's still funny.  "Remains of the Day" will probably appeal the most to Elfman's devoted fans, since he sings the lion's share of it, but sometimes it almost seems to be weird and wacky just for the sake of it, and one longs for one of the great ideas to be developed a little further than it is during the number.  "Tears to Shed" is a catchy song, with nice performances from (amongst others) Helena Bonham Carter and Jane Horrocks; and "The Wedding Song" is probably the pick of the lot, with amusing lyrics, a great tune and a rip-roaring performance.

The score does just about everything, flitting about all over the place, which can get a little irritating, though it's hardly unique amongst scores for animations in that regard, and Elfman mostly keeps things together.  As mentioned before, all the Elfman trademarks are here, with the most notable "new" music probably being the elegant, faux-classical piano pieces.  The best action piece is "Into the Forest", a terrific, propulsive piece which really sets the pulse racing.  Nobody does distorted romance quite as well as Elfman and he's on fine form here in a few places, including the wonderful "Victoria's Wedding", "The Party Arrives" and "The Finale", including all the requisite twinkly parts for which Elfman is rightly renowned.  The whole album works well, plays well from start to end, and if I hadn't heard Elfman's previous work then I'd be lauding it as a masterpiece - but the composer's done this sort of thing so often, I'm not really sure that those people who own the scores I referenced earlier on will really gain much from having it.  It's got all the right ingredients, with Elfman providing some really magical moments, and his really devoted fans will absolutely adore it.

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Tracks

  1. Main Titles (2:05)
  2. According to Plan (3:45)
  3. Victor's Piano Solo (1:18)
  4. Into the Forest (4:35)
  5. Remains of the Day (3:26)
  6. Casting a Spell (1:25)
  7. Moon Dance (1:28)
  8. Victor's Deception (4:00)
  9. Tears to Shed (2:45)
  10. Victoria's Escape (2:31)
  11. The Piano Duet (1:53)
  12. New Arrival (:42)
  13. Victoria's Wedding (3:15)
  14. The Wedding Song (3:01)
  15. The Party Arrives (3:21)
  16. Victor's Wedding (2:08)
  17. Barkis's Bummer (2:07)
  18. The Finale (2:35)
  19. End Credits Part I (1:50)
  20. End Credits Part II (2:33)
  21. Ball and Socket Lounge Music #1 (band version) (2:15)
  22. Remains of the Day (combo lounge version) (3:06)
  23. Ball and Socket Lounge Music #2 (1:10)
  24. Ball and Socket Lounge Music #1 (combo version) (2:14)