From the pink title font and panoramic shots of L.A.'s neon lit skyline to the morally ambiguous protagonist at its core, 2011's neo-noir Drive
took the tropes and aesthetics of bygone film eras and reapplied them to a new one. While the end result wasn’t without its flaws, the source material drawn upon by director Nicolas Refn was implemented well to create an entertaining and visually impressive homage with a few tricks up its sleeve.
Cliff Martinez's score and additional tracks by artists such as Kavinsky, College, Desire and the Chromatics are given much prominence in Drive
and play a key role in emphasizing both the previously mentioned retro stylings and tense undercurrent that slowly develops throughout the movie. Taken in isolation, Martinez's dreamy, Eno inspired pieces are pleasant enough but not particularly worth revisiting, and he fares better when echoing the ominous synth tones and rhythmic urgency of scores to likeminded crime movies such as Thief
. Despite taking up the bulk of the duration, the most memorable moments don’t belong to Martinez; as can be expected from a movie score several of his compositions drift by anonymously when deprived of their visual accompaniment, denting replay value somewhat. The moody, slow burning synth-pop of Kavinsky/Lovefoxxx's “Nightcall” and College’s cheesily enjoyable “A Real Hero” are highlights and likely the tracks responsible for piquing most people’s interest in picking up the soundtrack, while Riz Ortolani’s melodramatic “Oh My Love” remains an unusual but somehow fitting inclusion. All in all, Drive
’s soundtrack succeeds as both an important part of the movie and - albeit to a lesser extent - a worthwhile listen on its own.