Brian Tyler’s score for Charlie’s Angels is a well executed musical blend of 70s-style spy and modern-day action, with an enjoyable and rather catchy main theme in tow.
Let’s start with the theme. Brian Tyler has actually done a pretty good job with this, in that his Charlie’s Angels Theme (track one of the score) is not only upbeat and rather enjoyable, but quite memorable too. The cue opens with some very 70s-sounding strings and percussion instruments, and immediately you get a sense of what the composer’s trying to go for stylistically; a recapture of that classic, John Barry-esque spy music that both James Bond and the original Charlie’s Angels television series had in spades. Before long drum beats then arrive, and we get a loud, brass-based and rather heroic-sounding introductory rendition of the score’s primary motif. As I said it’s quite catchy, and in truth I found myself humming it on more than one occasion post-listen, so props to Tyler there. The theme is then shown off for a few more dramatic and percussion-heavy renditions, getting more bombastic and enthusiastic with each one until the music then ends as subtly and spy-like as it began. Overall, Charlie’s Angels Theme is a great track, a fantastic way (both stylistically and thematically) to open the album, and the standout cue of this review.
Light percussion and sweeping strings open Angel’s Wings, with the former instrumentation then taking the forefront at about the thirty second mark accompanied by brass quietly playing Tyler’s new theme in the background. Hip-hop-style beats then occupy the back half of the cue, tying the score’s 70s-esque musical roots with the modern day sound rather expertly as the track then draws to a close. Percussion definitely seems to be what the composer was most keen on when creating this score, as subsequent track Identity Crisis features plenty of it in both quiet spy subtlety and loud enthusiastic heroism, with the latter featuring notably at the end of the piece with a fairly triumphant rendition of the main theme. The aforementioned percussion then plays a particularly prominent role in Closet Of My Dreams, a rather enchanting cue where some pleasant-sounding strings swirl around initially hip-hop then more spy-like backing beats for a sadly short seventy second runtime.
I’m Charlie opens with some rather mysterious yet gradually uplifting strings, which slowly elevate the mood of the track from slightly ominous at the start to quite hopeful towards the end, at which point the main theme is briefly hinted at by additional strings and backing brass before the music ends at just over the sixty second mark. The hip-hop beats then return in The Townsend Agency, with strings making a brief appearance in the opening few seconds to cameo the main theme before the music then slows right down, with some quite melancholic strings then taking the forefront. This doesn’t last for long however before heroic brass then arrives, bringing back the score’s hopeful and happy nature with a particularly uplifting appearance from the main theme. We then get our first taste of action with Hamburg Chase, where Tyler really shows off what he can do with rapid, imposing percussion and frantic strings establishing a very frenzied tone right off the bat. Villainous-sounding deep brass and electronics make various appearances throughout, with segments of the main theme painted in rather sparingly over the six minutes of fast-paced action score.
Things then slow down considerably for the opening of The Great Con, where Mission Impossible-esque percussion and light strings return the score to the sneakier, spy-style setting established earlier. This continues for a good two minutes before we are treated to a spectacularly upbeat rendition of the main theme, at which point the pace starts to pick up and the brass kicks in along with some rather loud action beats. Tense moments are few and far between here as the main Angels theme appears frequently to keep things hopeful, though tensions do rise right towards the end of the piece for a rather frantic finale. The score then relaxes with Bosley, where slow and almost pensive strings and very light percussion establish a rather wistful tone that is continued throughout the three minute runtime to make for quite a calming cue overall.
The album’s best action cue then arrives with Rock Quarry, which opens much like previous ones with tense strings and loud, dramatic percussion. The pace is kicked up considerably at about the ninety second mark just after a rather short rendition of the main theme, with electronic-sounding beats and imposing bursts of brass getting across a particularly anxious mood. This continues for much of the track, with various triumphant flares of the main theme interspersed throughout to add elements of hope. Ominous electronics then appear towards the end of the track before the main theme gets a particularly victorious brass and percussion-heavy appearance to close out the action, at least momentarily. Off To The Races then continues in a similarly tense musical vein, with loud percussion, dramatic electronics and a rising sense of urgency occupying the cue’s first two minutes. The main theme then gets a short cameo before Asian-style woodwinds briefly appear, and the music then rapidly surges on to the rather percussion-heavy ending.
The slower and more melancholic side of the score appears again briefly with short cue Backstories before the action then returns in full force with Hacking And Fighting, where fast-paced percussion and epic bursts of brass form much of the cue’s three minutes, with frantic strings boosting tensions and the main theme once again making several sporadic and triumphant appearances throughout. A rather excellent-sounding blend of 70s-style and electronic percussion then opens Breaking And Entering, before things then slow down for some low and particularly menacing brass interspersed with deep electronics that together make for quite a villainous-sounding ending to the track. To finish up the album, the 70s-style percussion makes a welcome return in combination with several particularly upbeat renditions of the main theme in Charlie’s Angels, a moment that is then made even better with heroic brass playing out said motif in a very grandiose manner before the score then ends on a curiously percussive note.
Overall, Brian Tyler’s score for the new Charlie’s Angels film features a very enjoyable blend of classic 70s-style spy and modern action orchestra, and that coupled with an excellent-sounding and quite memorable main theme makes it one of the more interesting action scores released this year. As per usual with this composer the album’s strength lies in its action cues, with ones like Hamburg Chase and of course Rock Quarry being great examples of his great stylistic and thematic work here. I would have perhaps liked the main theme to show up just a little more, as it’s sadly relegated to short sporadic appearances for much of the score and with memorability like that it deserved to have at least a bit more time in the limelight. Still, what we did get was excellent, and if there are sequels I look forward to hearing more of Tyler’s work here.
Standout Cue: 1. Charlie’s Angels Theme