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THE INFORMERS – Christopher Young

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The second film to be based on one of Bret Easton Ellis’s novels after American Psycho, The Informers is an examination of the hedonistic 80s lifestyles of a group of twentysomethings in Los Angeles who treat life, sex and drugs as disposable commodities. The film, which was directed by Gregor Jordan, has an eclectic cast that includes such luminaries as Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, Mickey Rourke, Chris Isaak, and the late Brad Renfro. For the music, Jordan hired composer Christopher Young, who rarely gets the chance to take on dark personal dramas such as this, but is often very successful when he does. Young’s score has the same sense of cold detachment that the film does, mirroring both the ‘me-first’ 80s attitudes as well as the unemotionally synthetic musical stylistics that permeated the popular music scene of the era through the New Romantic movement.

The textures Young employs throughout the score are clever, pitting various staccato synth pulses against a small live instrumental complement comprising acoustic and electric guitars, plucked basses, keyboards, percussion and vibes, all played with a laid-back cool that captures the lax attitude of the protagonists – to sex, to recreation drugs, to life. Cues such as “Nothing But a Broken Heart”, “Please Me, Please, Please”, “Sex Whenever” are pleasingly melodic, reminiscent of the jazzy music wrote for films such as Wonder Boys, Rounders and The Big Kahuna, although without those earlier scores’ penchants for speakeasy sleaziness.

“A Rose in All Things Beautiful” has a lovely, hypnotic piano melody, while other cues such as “No Wicked Way”, “Malibu Dope” and “To Ryder, With Love” have a dirtier, grittier sound with more prominent electric guitar growls, finger snaps and wailing Hammond organs which are very effective indeed. Once in a while the synthetic textures recall the dreamlike tones Young wrote for the little-known Bright Angel back in 1991, which remains one of his great undiscovered works.

Although The Informers doesn’t have the personality or beauty of Young’s best works, it’s still a nice change of pace, and continues to establish his credentials for composing great music across multiple genres. As a pure film score, The Informers but doesn’t have a lot to offer, but as a collection of pop/jazz instrumentals, you can’t go far wrong.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • The Informers (2:45)
  • Nothing But a Broken Heart (1:58)
  • What Was, It Is. What Is, It’s Not (4:17)
  • Please Me, Please, Please (2:44)
  • No Wicked Way (2:56)
  • Malibu Dope (3:52)
  • To Ryder, With Love (3:55)
  • Wrecked by Money (2:50)
  • Is She Really? (3:10)
  • Sex Whenever (2:40)
  • A Rose in All Things Beautiful (1:37)
  • Dysfunctional Everything (3:09)
  • Toupee Tango (2:19)
  • Hawaiian Dissonance (3:13)
  • Love is Love is Love (6:43)

Running Time: 48 minutes 08 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-34082 (2009)

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