David Holmes spearheads this collective effort to brilliantly capture the essence of the award-winning ‘Killing Eve’ series in these dual-release soundtracks. The menace and playful brutality of the female lead character is just pouring out of these albums. This is realised through the original and sleek musical arrangement of Holmes, ‘Keefus’ Ciancia & Jade Vincent in their ‘Unloved’ guise.
I openly admit as to never having watched one episode of this en vogue hit-man (well, hit-woman, actually) show, so I decided to give the first two episodes a peek before writing this review. It doesn’t take long to see that the music really works, totally in sync with the somehow lovable, female psychopath and all of the ensuing chaos that unfolds on-screen.
Both releases are dominated by tracks from the band, Unloved – consisting of renowned Northern-Irish born composer David Holmes, Ivor Novello award-winning, American musician-composer Keith ‘Keefus’ Ciancia and singer Jade Vincent, who also happens to be married to Ciancia. Series musical supervisor is Catherine Grieves, who has an impressive CV in her own right including directing the music on the likes of ‘The Inbetweeners’ movie.
The opening track on S1, ‘Sigh’ is a microcosm of the Emmy-winning production that is ‘Killing Eve’ – frantic, jarring, unhinged but with a certain fragility and delicacy. Other tracks of note from S1 are the sleazy, lawless ‘Bill’; ‘Xpectations’, which features on the opening credits throughout the series and ‘Unloved 7’, a full instrumental which has echoes of The Doors with it’s rolling drum solos.
Much of Jade Vincent’s lyrics seem to be a mouthpiece for the villainess herself, who could be described as clinical, explosive, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, barbaric, confident, vulnerable & stylish. Such as, “My mother always told me, don’t talk to strangers” from ‘After Dinner’; and “Fuck the travails of the devil” on ‘When a Woman Is Around’. The music throughout has an expansive, continental European feel to it with the majority of selected tracks featuring female vocalists, including ‘Contact’ by Brigette Bardot. Female domination, strength and resilience are constants in the ‘Killing Eve’ story.
With the opening track of S2 – ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ by Unloved, you can almost feel the relentless, high-pursuit energy chase of the killer in this cat & mouse game of serial bloodshed. The signature organ keys in ‘Where Evil Grows’ by Poppy Family provides flashbacks to the likes of dark, deranged cinematic classics such as ‘A Clockwork Orange’, whereas ‘Her’ and its moody saxophone solo drips with lust and erotica. Adapted versions of, ‘You Don’t Own Me’ (‘Van Tu Sei Libero’ by Dalida) and ‘Angel of the Morning (‘Vlinder Van Een Zomer’ by Willeke Alberti ) are another welcome surprise. The latter was also used in the opening titles for another modern-day, ‘super’hero with a twist – ‘Deadpool.’
Great to hear the fantastic Cigarettes After Sex featured with tracks on each of the albums. Their laid-back, soulful, sophisticated music seems made for ‘Killing Eve’. The closing song on S2 – ‘Opera House’ – is the most heartfelt and soul-searching song across both soundtracks (‘All my love for you, cuts me like barbed wire..’) and it is potentially looking for a reason why the killer is as she is. In keeping with the plot of the series, nothing on these albums is predictable. Listening is a fully immersive experience with all of the tracks seamlessly weaving into one another with no dead air in between.
Discussing the challenges of creating music for the screen, David Holmes was quoted as saying, “You have to tick every box for a piece of music to work in cinema or TV, it can’t just almost work: it has to slot in perfectly.”
And does it ever just click right into place.
Killing Eve, Season 1 & Season 2 soundtracks are released on 13 December.