Review Summary: Finally, a soundtrack that succeeds in exactly what it is supposed to do.
Hanna is a soundtrack to a movie. That sentence wasn’t too hard to understand, now was it? Apparently, for many modern movie soundtracks, producers, this concept is beyond their reach. They are far too busy either making grandiose, “epic”, soundscapes that ultimately work against the movie, or see how many big name bands they can cram together to garner some attention into getting people buying their soundtrack. Sometimes they even enter into the worst vice of all, being boring.
The Chemical Brothers rather cleverly avoided these pitfalls by doing perhaps the most obvious thing of all, exactly what they were hired to do. They make a soundtrack to a movie. Songs stick directly to the important moods of the story, not getting caught up in words (sans the final track) or excessively flashy instrumentation. Much of the album is spent sending the listener on alternating volleys of songs emanating naïve innocence (Hanna) to songs dripping wet with the sweat of pure urgency (Escape 700). Two moods that are highly relevant to the story of a child assassin. The album only strays from this established set-up on a few occasions. Occasions carefully planned to establish the inherent dissonance in the concept of a child assassin. Whether it is the unsettling childhood toy keyboard sounds of The Sandman or the complete opposites being playfully juxtaposed in The Devil is in the Beats, each song sounds like it has meaning and purpose.
When playing the record, certain aspects of the songs leave the listener in awe. Not in the sense of how dense the music is--this is the Chemical Brothers we are talking about after all. No, it is more awe-inspiring in the sense that none of the elements feel wasted or become tiring--there is no boring lull in the album. They took the best parts of Further and Dig Your Own Hole, trimmed the fat, cranked the darkness to 11, and ended up with one of the most engaging records of their career, not to mention contributing one of the best soundtracks in the past few years.