Friday, 11 April 2014

Divergent Score Review

Check it out...  if you enjoyed Paranoia and 300: Rise of an Empire, and want an equally rewarding experience, filled to the brim with brilliant choral motifs, outstanding synth, and impressive orchestral work

Skip it... if you resent 5 minute synthesizer-fests, and would rather an entire album filled with beautiful contemporary arrangements, despite the amount of quality time already given to outstanding orchestral cues.

Junkie XL has so far had a stand out, near perfect year, in my eyes at least. 300: Rise of An Empire was a brilliant way to start off the year, and Divergent only continues his outstanding success. His style obviously appeals to a broad array of directors nowadays, being that near every film we're exposed to is set in some kind of dystopian future with teenagers running around; this kind of film obviously requires a fairly diverse score, with it's good fill of action cues. Divergent is the film he is composing for this time around, and it is directed by Neil Burger, whose name you may recognize from Limitless, the 2011 hit, which I'm yet to see! He is adapting the novel of the same name, which is set in a dystopian future, much to our surprise, and tells the story of Shailene Woodley's character, and how she is a Divergent; a person who is somehow different to the rest... I'm sorry, I didn't research into this plot at all. I think it's safe to assume that I don't care about the film, despite the probability that I will go and see it in theatres. The score, by Junkie XL, is all I'm really interested in. Without further ado, let us jump into this album!

Divergent is stacked with some incredibly awesome music; emotional, grand and inspired, there are some truly incredible stand out cues on offer, that will undoubtedly find their way onto the nominations for Best Piece by the end of the year, right next to History of Artemsia. And like History of Artemsia, the piece that really headlines the entire album, and has me wanting to purchase this myself, is the opening cue, Tris. Not only does it set a blissful tone for the rest of the score, but it provides that beautiful theme for the main character, that completely took my breath away. And the vocals... simply mind blowing! I believe Ellie Goulding was called in to do the vocals, and she hits it out of the park; I may not like most of her music, but I can't argue with the fact that she is a damn good singer. The electric guitar that Junkie implements is also incredibly well incorporated into the piece, and fits right in with the tone of the rest of the score, so no issues there. There seem to be two sides to this score, and this suits the first side utterly perfectly; the other side being that certain dystopian feel, that you may recognize from scores partially like this, like James Newton Howard's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which had an edge to the entire synthetic approach that turned off a lot of people, and engaged others, like myself. If you want an introduction to what I'm talking about, just listen to the first piece on the card, Katniss. The main difference between the sounds conjured, whilst tonally around the same page, is that Junkie incorporates a lot more heavy synth into his approach. Newton Howard at least employed a sound which sounds as if it can be at least replicated to a degree with a string instrument like a violin or cello. Divergent's deeper, heavier moments certainly sound as if they are only ever destined for replication in a computer; you can't recreate these sounds with contemporary instruments. These heavier synthetic moments are the real turn offs for the score, unfortunately, and pieces like This Isn't Real are what keep me from awarding top honors to this otherwise perfect score.

Despite these more electronic moments and my distaste for them, the album is still worth buying, to be honest. The highlights are damn big highlights, and I certainly see myself listening to this more than once into the future, as it's got some really frighteningly beautiful moments. Latter parts of the piece Ferris Wheel, I Am Divergent, Capture The Flag, Sacrifice, among others incorporate a hopeful and uplifting tone that I was unsure of to begin with, until Junkie really started to turn up the volume. Again, those vocals by Ellie Goulding are astounding, and make a few of the pieces for me into really big highlights, greater than they should have been. Junkie brings it all together, along with producer Hans Zimmer, and this makes for a thoroughly enjoyable title, that whilst not exactly adventurous, has all the ambition and height that makes for a really memorable album. It's most certainly not original, that's for sure, but don't let that turn you off from it immediately, as there is still some really solid music available to listen to. 

In conclusion, whilst not a completely original score in concept and execution, Junkie XL has provided a resoundingly good score, that whilst not as bombastic and fun as 300: Rise of an Empire, is at the present time currently one of the stand out scores of the year. He's a strong composer, with the right names as colleagues, such as Zimmer, and will undoubtedly go on to greater projects in the near future. You can buy Divergent over at Amazon here.


1. Tris*
3. Choosing Dauntless
4. Capture The Flag
8. Fear
9. I Am Divergent
10. A Friend
11. Conspiracy
13. Faction Before Blood*
15. Final Test
16. The March
18. Sacrifice
20. Fight The Dauntless*
21. Everywhere And Nowhere

Junkie Score: 89.15
Buy or Stream? Buy

Enjoy the new format? Taking bits of pieces from a lot of reviewing sites; the most noticeable being the check it out, and skip it section that you will have recognized from Filmtracks. Trying out new things, so don't be surprised if this again changes! 

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