In some ways better than Danny Elfman's score for the first Batman film (and vice versa), Batman Returns is one of the composers very finest, and most entertaining, scores. While the score for the first film was more action oriented, this score is slower and more emotional (It has its fair share of action, too, of course), although they both share the same dark and dramatic mood and sound.
Batman Returns is also much more thematically interesting. Apart from the excellent Batman theme, Elfman adds two new themes for the Penguin and the Cat Woman - given its best rendition in "Selina Transforms". Cat Woman is also associated with high violins imitating a cat - excellent idea and great effect.
The entire score is more lyrical and melodic, than its precursor and to make the music even more gothic and dramatic, Elfman makes use of worldess choir, a la Edward Scissorhands (In fact, the music sometimes evokes the same feeling of fairy tale and winter as Edward Scissorhands), as well as organ, giving the music a sometimes incredibly powerful and dramatic sound. The score is also a real beauty in the film, from the opening scene - with one of the best main titles Elfman has ever written - with the birth of the penguin, to the very end, with the cat woman, alone high above the ground. But at the same time, the music can get a little too quiet, and dull at times, but with the album release being almost 70 minutes long, these parts can luckily be skipped, without missing too much of the music.
The packaging is an excellent example of brainless producing. For some reason the tracklist is only placed on the actual disc. Really smart...