With the release of Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides looming on the horizon, anticipation has been very high. Even moreso with the release of Hans Zimmer and Co.'s latest contribution to the franchise. Coming on board this time are Spanish guitarist duo Rodrigo y Gabriela and composer Eric Whitacre. Interestingly enough, the latest release actually feels alot more different than the previous scores (I haven't seen the film yet so I have no great basis for comparison) with the help of the spanish guitars and the X-Ray Dog feel. The album itself has also been prematurely criticized for the amount of remixes tacked onto the end.
Guilty of Being Innocent of Being Jack Sparrow- Confusing title aside, this brief track is a compilation of all the various Jack Sparrow motifs and themes pushed into one. It's short, but fun.
Angelica- Here's where the real treat begins. Rodrigo and Gabriela really show their playing skills off in this fun track. The music is mostly compromised of latin flavored themes with a waltz backdrop and some bass thumps. Definitely an interesting choice for a Zimmer score in this area.
Mutiny- This is where Blackbeard's theme is introduced. Unfortunately not wholly memorable as some of the previous themes written by Zimmer (and also sounds a little bit too much like Barbossa's theme from the first film). Aside from that, the track is mostly a reusal of the track 'Swords Crossed', in Curse of the Black Pearl. Interesting only for the latin sound implemented in.
The Pirate Who Should Not Be- Another interesting track title, this is one of RyG's medlies. The track opens with a fast paced pulse before expanding into a spanish variation on 'He's A Pirate'. Once again, it's fun and original.
Mermaids- Running at 8 minutes, this is easily the longest cue on the album. For the first third of the track, Zimmer and Whitacre bring a reprisal of the ethereal motif from At World's End. The choir sounds great but the overuse of synth does wear a little thin. The middle portion introduces the motif for the film, a mysterious rising and falling theme. The third (interestingly enough) incorporates the music from Beckett's death in the third film. It's a strange choice but fits in with the track, which does unfortunately lag with amount of synth overlay.
South of Heaven's Chanting Mermaids- This time around, RyG puts a latin spin on the Stranger Tides motif. It's interesting to listen to but isn't really anything exciting.
Palm Tree Escape- The album's first (and only) action cue, Palm Tree Escape is ingenious. The cue slowly builds up, using the various Jack Sparrow motifs before exploding into the action theme from Dead Man's Chest. That's when it gets interesting. The second half is a spanish guitar variation on 'He's A Pirate', coming out of nowhere. While the music itself isn't original, the twist used with the guitars was a nice little surprise.
Blackbeard- I will admit, of all the themes used in the score this is the one I am most disappointed about. The simplistic approach (a rising and falling three note motif that sounds like a foghorn) sounds so bland. It also doesn't help that the cue keeps cutting away from the theme and delving into other motifs. (including the Stranger Tides theme, and a truly surprising reprise of 'Haunted Dress To Tortuga') It just isn't memorable or exciting.
Angry and Dead Again- Aside from the electric guitars added on, this is mostly the same RyG stuff we've heard before. Nothing new.
On Stranger Tides- This is, for the most part, the theme of the score. At first I wasn't really impressed but if you do go back for a repeated listen, you will be surprised at the thought put into the track. Opening with a mysterious motif, the track suddenly bursts into a choral burst of energy. The cue is suprisingly powerful and does resonate after listening.
End Credits- While pretty much a 2 minute suite of He's A Pirate, this cue does throw a bit of latin flavor into the mix. It sounds fun, although the re-use of the Jack Sparrow action motif feels uninspired.
As for the remixes, I won't even bother bringing them up. Overall, this album is a rare case where I will recommend purchasing through Mp3 to get the score material (unless you like techno remixes). The music itself, however, isn't really worth recommending. Aside from the nice latin touches of Rodrigo y Gabriela and the choral/orchestral sounds from Eric Whitacre, the music feels like nothing more than a large compilation of various themes from the previous scores. It suffers from the issues that Rango had, it lack originality and serves as nothing more than a mixture of 'Zimmer's Greatest Hits'. Otherwise (if you are a big Pirate fan) there really isn't anything to hold against the score. My only other complaint is amount of remixes that take up about half of the album.