While not quite as superhero-y as the first two seasons, John Paesano manages to deliver yet another fairly solid score for Daredevil.
When it comes to John Paesano’s score to seasons one and two of Daredevil, I hold something of a middle ground in my opinions of them. I don’t love them without question like a great deal of fans do, but I don’t particularly dislike them either. When I listened to them I found the main theme for Daredevil rather good; a somewhat mysterious piece of music with a few heroic elements dotted around. The theme formed a solid foundation for Paesano’s score, and when it was used it elevated the music around it significantly. That however showcases my biggest issue with Paesano’s Daredevil scores; he creates a fantastic main theme and then doesn’t use it very much. This coupled with the fact that when it is used the theme tends to underperform (i.e. kind of fall flat musically) makes for a pretty dull musical experience, especially so since you can hear the potential and so it sucks when it isn’t fully realised.
Take this track from season one for instance. It is probably the best rendition of the theme for Daredevil that Paesano has composed, and is a pretty great example of the potential the motif has. Unfortunately, this happens to be the only real time that the theme gets a chance to shine. Certainly it’s the most exciting and epic rendition, which is a bit of a shame considering how short a playthrough it is. Listen from 1:05.
Anyway, that’s my biggest problem with Paesano. He does it a lot (Spider-Man PS4 is a recent example) and unfortunately season three of Daredevil isn’t an exception. Now don’t get me wrong, season three is pretty damn good music-wise but it suffers from the same issue the previous two did. The main theme is criminally underused, and there are also no epic or heroic renditions of said motif anywhere on the album. Now this could be because this season is darker than ever and has no heroic moments (which would suck by the way) and so therefore isn’t really Paesano’s doing, but it still makes for a dull album experience.
The album opens with Main Title, which is yet another copy of the same opening credits music from the previous two seasons. The actual music is great, being a fantastic piece that perfectly captures the dark and gritty nature of the show while still having a slight heroic edge that lets you know you’re watching a superhero flick. It is a bit of an unnecessary track to include here though, given that I and I’m sure many other listeners now have three exact copies of it – one for each album. It is also an especially odd decision given that the actual main titles for season 3 feature an ever so slightly different rendition of the Main Title track, so it would’ve made a lot more sense to include that instead of copying the now slightly obsolete original recording. Oh well, the new one isn’t that different anyway.
The score really begins with Subway Feels, a track that essentially completely reinventes the sound for Daredevil. We’re used to the fairly simple and slightly synthetic sounding sound of seasons one and two, but that is completely gone here. Season three’s music is very orchestrally rich (far more so than previous ones), and sounds like it should be in a movie. If you’re as avid a score fan as I am, you can usually tell the difference between a television and film score since the former tends to have a lower budget and sound a bit more synthetic (as they’re usually not recorded with an orchestra), but Daredevil here blurs the lines significantly. Subway Feels not only sets a pretty sad and melancholic tone for the album, but also lets you know that Paesano has moved up a notch in quality.
Tazin’ In The Dark and Not Another Hallway bring back the rapid strings-based renditions of the Daredevil theme backbone (you know, the four note repeated part) that Paesano used a lot in his action pieces, and they sound a lot better here. Either somebody has been taking lessons in mastering or has managed to steal an orchestra from somewhere, because so far in terms of sound quality this album is sublime. These two action tracks are quite enjoyable, returning that frantic style from the previous seasons but they are a little thematically dry, a fact which reinforces my main theme point from earlier.
The more solemn setting returns in Returning Home, where some very mournful sounding strings play out a slow and powerful rendition of the main theme. These strings play a pretty major part throughout the album, showing up in pretty much every track. Season three seems to have a much bleaker atmosphere than the previous two scores, and as a result the sad strings take centre stage a lot. Fagan Corners and Perp Walk are particularly good examples of this, although Perp Walk goes a few steps further with some rather epic sounding vocals appearing about halfway through.
All the sombre musical elements of the album then culminate in the standout cue of the score; The Funeral. Higher pitched strings play out a desperately sad rendition of the main theme while backing vocals do all they can to reduce you to tears. I haven’t actually seen season three yet, so part of me regrets doing this review first as I’m now dreading whatever happens when this particular music plays. It won’t be a happy scene, for sure.
The score then closes out with End Credits, a dark, dramatic and primarily vocal playthrough of the main theme. Somehow Paesano managed to create a main theme rendition that’s even more ominous than Main Title here, and it works wonderfully. A pretty sombre end to a fairly depressing album.
Overall, the score for season three of Daredevil is good, but not great. It has a much darker and more melancholic musical style than the previous seasons, with little to no heroic or epic moments as a result. This I feel is a bit of a shame, given how great we know that main theme can be in an epic moment. It is also the only recognisable motif on the score (that I could find anyway) so when it’s absent I find the music to be rather bland and even boring at times. The best tracks are when the motif is used and used well (such as The Funeral) and so the fact that we get no heroic elements is unfortunate (as this is where the Daredevil theme is at it’s best), and even more so considering the major quality upgrade Paesano has given his music this season.
Damn it, I just want a loud and heroic Daredevil action track. It that too much to ask?
Standout Cue: 20. The Funeral