Soundtrack Review: The Shape of Water

Shape of Water CD

The Shape of Water
Released by Decca Records, 2017
26 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 77 min.
Music Composed and Conducted by Alexandre Desplat, featuring Renée Fleming

Years ago, the only way a soundtrack could grab my attention, I mean really get a hold of it, was that it had to be creepy sounding. Something like Carpenter’s Halloween theme, or pretty much any of John Harrison’s Creepshow. Or maybe something a little more masculine like Basil Poledouris’ amazing score for Conan the Barbarian. But a score for a drama or even a love story? Seriously? Oh how things have changed. When you really love cinema, every part of it can entrance you, from the way the film looks to the sounds that emit from the speakers. And when you come across a film by a brilliant and master craftsman like Guillermo del Toro, you realize how perfect things can be.

Being a huge fan of Del Toro’s work, I picked up this soundtrack even before I had seen the movie, and even without the visuals, the music just creates its own world. You immediately get the feelings of the time period in the ’50s, especially with the amazing song You’ll Never Know, featuring the vocal talent of Renée Fleming. Not only does it fit perfectly in the movie, but it just gives you that feeling of what the movie is about. Yes, even before seeing it.

The other thing that I look for in a score is a theme that kind of flows through the entire soundtrack and we get that right away with the opening track, The Shape of Water, which at times almost sounds like it is being heard while underwater. Now, this isn’t to say there is some bits in this score that aren’t a bit more tense or builds some darker atmosphere. Track # 3, The Creature, kind of starts off with something that sounds a bit like a little tribute to the famous Jaws theme, creating a nice little nerve-building piece. But each track stands on its own, as well as working together with the rest of the tracks, which makes this just an amazing soundtrack. I was never a fan of big band music from that era, but it works so well here that I’ve found myself liking it more and more.

The score seems to have a couple of different opposites, or contrasts in there. On one hand, the music goes back and forth from giving us a feeling of loneliness to that of pure love to when we get the feeling of the more intense, darker or negative themes for feelings for the “bad guys” here.

Bottom line…if you are even remotely a fan of soundtracks, you just might want to add this one to your collection. Desplat, like del Toro, has created a soundtrack that will just entrance you and put you in a good mood each and every time you listen to it.

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