Joseph Shirley and Ludwig Göransson’s The Book of Boba Fett serves the legendary titular bounty hunter rather well, with a well-crafted and quite hummable main theme, several standout setpieces and a rather unique musical style, which – while not quite hitting the high heights of The Mandalorian – makes for a pretty entertaining listening experience throughout.
After scoring two seasons of Disney+’s other hit Star Wars show The Mandalorian, Ludwig Göransson has returned once again for Boba Fett’s spinoff series, though this time in a smaller role composing the main theme with fellow composer Joseph Shirley taking point for much of the full score. Let’s start with that main theme then, as The Book Of Boba Fett differs itself from other Mandalorian music almost right off the bat; the main title cue opens with a burst of strings and a dramatic vocal yell, which is then cemented a few seconds later as additional, louder and more grandiose vocals then start to actually hum a new theme for Fett. This semi-Nordish, folk-like style actually works quite well, boosting the already fairly memorable motif to get it to stick in your head pretty much immediately, while also establishing a unique musical style that differs considerably from Göransson’s other main Mandalorian motif. Dramatic drums and bursts of heroic brass occupy the background for much of the piece, giving the music overall an orchestral boost while also taking a bit of a backseat in order to let the vocals take the forefront. At three minutes long overall this thematic piece certainly leaves an impression, and while for me personally it doesn’t hit quite as hard as the grand, Western-styled piece for Din Djarin, Boba Fett’s theme is damned good all the same, and a pretty solid start to the first volume of the score.
Joseph Shirley’s side of things then begins with Rebirth, and a much darker tone settles over the score pretty much immediately as the track opens. Quiet, sinister-sounding electronics occupy the first minute, with low-pitched vocals and solemn strings then entering the fray together with some increasingly frenetic percussion. This all slowly builds to crescendo as the track continues, with loud, semi-triumphant brass then bursting through with a short playthrough of Boba’s new theme just before the piece then comes to a dramatic close. The emphatic vocals from the main theme cue return in curiously ominous form in The Stranger, with a few notes from the motif introducing themselves in a rather foreboding manner and building dramatically over the course of two and a half minutes. Loud, menacing bursts of brass then open Normal Day At The Office with some quite tribal-esque percussion occupying the background, setting an unsettling, tenacious tone overall to musically represent the fearsome Tusken Raiders of Tatooine. This rather fierce percussive force then pushes through into Fear Is A Sure Bet, the album’s first action setpiece. The aforementioned drums together with bursts of aggravated brass and the occasional vocal chant power the track forward at a particularly rapid pace, with the volume and intensity slowly building over the course of the cue’s four minute runtime until a dramatic crescendo is reached just before track’s end.
Boba’s theme retakes centre stage in Desert Walk, with an upbeat guitar and strings now accompanying the folk-like vocals (from the title cue) to create a dramatic but also rather optimistic piece overall. Slower, more solemn strings then arrive at the start of Boba’s Throne, with some rather dramatic percussion and brass notes gradually building in the background until the main theme bursts into the fray for a brief triumphant cameo at just under three minutes in. The heroism is short lived however as sinister, moody electronics take over the score in The Twins, a loudly malevolent thematic piece for the twinned Hutt antagonists from the show. Aggressive brass notes and rumbles of dissonant percussion help to elevate the new motif’s already pretty intimidating tone, with a recurring percussive underbeat also cementing a slight memorability (though not as strong as Boba’s) to the piece. With the villains established action then steps back into the fray, with subsequent setpiece Stop That Train getting off to a particularly frenetic start with loud, fast-paced strings and aggressively in-your-face electronics. Hope slowly starts to seed itself into the music as the cue continues however, with the grandiose vocals from Boba’s theme making a particularly emphatic appearance towards the end. The action then continues into Like A Bantha, with imposing percussion and worrisome strings taking centre stage for the majority of the track’s rather short two minute runtime. Things settle right down though for The Ultimate Boon; a far slower, more solemn piece where gently ethereal woodwinds and melancholic vocals take prominence. Towards the end dramatic percussion also joins the fray, adding to the already pretty intensely emotional cue to overall make it one of the better pieces on the album.
Aliit Ori’shya Tal’din (or “Family is more than blood”) opens rather ominously, with whistling, echoing woodwinds and pensive strings then pushing the tone further downward into more solemn, mournful territory together with gentle vocals playing Boba’s theme in particularly downtrodden form. This gentle solemnity doesn’t last for long though as Road Rage kicks things right back up into action territory with a very electronics-laden, almost Matrix-esque setpiece that keeps the tension high and pace frantic right the way through its happily lengthy five minute runtime. The Mod Parlour then switches the mood up yet again as optimistic, semi-80s-esque synth beats and electronics take centre stage for several minutes of enthusiastic mood-setting score before the orchestra and dramatic “Boba-style” vocals return in full force in Fennec And Boba. This cue slowly builds tension over the course of its two minute length, with low-pitched percussion and the aforementioned vocals keeping the mood ominous until You Fly, I’ll Shoot once again heads into action territory. Downbeat electronics open the piece, with tense percussion slowly increasing the pace until loud brass notes burst into the fray and the action then really gets going with the vocals and orchestra taking prominence. After a short, worrisome crescendo is reached the album reaches its finale with The Families Of Mos Espa – it’s a rather sinister, primarily strings-based atmospheric cue for much of its runtime until a nice surprise makes itself known right at the end, as familiar woodwinds start to play and none other than Göransson’s Mandalorian theme steps into frame, ending the album on a very curious thematic note indeed.
Overall, Joseph Shirley and Ludwig Göransson’s score for The Book Of Boba Fett is pretty entertaining, though not quite as strong as Göransson’s The Mandalorian works. The main theme is by far the most interesting aspect of the album, featuring dramatic, folk-like, almost Nordish vocals that literally hum the new thematic notes for Boba Fett (which actually makes it very memorable, at least for me), with imposing backing percussion and bursts of emphatic brass also helping to emphasize the bold, honorable nature of the titular character. The rest of the album is perhaps a little less interesting by comparison, with some tracks dragging in atmosphere or loud, oppressive action, but the way the main theme features in many forms (grandiose heroism or quiet solemnity) across the score is an absolute highlight. There are also several pretty entertaining other cues that stand on their own as well, such as the dramatically high-flying electronic action piece Road Rage or the slow, quietly mournful Aliit Ori’shya Tal’din to name but two. It’s hard though not to compare the score to its parent show, and when you do so as I’ve said The Book Of Boba Fett doesn’t shine quite as brightly as The Mandalorian, but to be fair that score did take a season to really get going, and there’s plenty to entertain with Fett here so far with its first. As such, I for one am certainly looking forward to the second volume releasing in a few weeks time, so keep an eye out here for an update when it does.
Not a bad start for Boba Fett, but room for improvement.
Several Weeks Later…
At long last, the second volume of Joseph Shirley and Ludwig Göransson’s The Book Of Boba Fett is with us. With it comes a number of great cues and surprisingly, a couple of bonus ones from the first volume that didn’t quite make the cut, which is an unusual but certainly very welcome effort from the composers there. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Gentle strings and woodwinds open The Underworld, with none other than the Mandalorian’s theme emerging at around the twenty second mark, and the short, playful motif for Grogu then following swiftly suit. Themes do seem to pretty much be the centrepiece of this particular cue, as about a minute or so of gently optimistic orchestra later another reprisal occurs, with the quietly grandiose theme for the Mandalorian Creed (a la Mando Rescue from the first season’s score) receiving a gently electronic playthrough. A Cautionary Tale then briefly hints back toward the main Mandalorian motif on sombre strings before optimistic, upbeat percussion and strings start to raise spirits in Faster Than A Fathier, with the Mandalorian’s theme held high on whistling woodwinds. Brass then starts to build and swell at the three minute mark, hinting towards dramatic heroism which then comes to full (though sadly short) fruition in the subsequent Maiden Voyage. Here the orchestra bursts into the fast-paced fray right in the first few seconds, with the Mandalorian’s theme playing loudly and triumphantly for a minute of thoroughly enjoyable action score.
As we delve deeper into the album, other thematic cameos also start to emerge – Life Lessons for example features a short, quietly strings-based appearance from Luke Skywalker (his new theme that Göransson established in The Mandalorian season two’s A Friend) which is then followed by a surprise rendition of John Williams’ theme for Yoda on the same gentle strings. Standout cue Teacher’s Pet then features some rather wonderful orchestral work, with Grogu’s motif playing upbeat throughout together with short but welcome appearances from both Göransson’s new Luke Skywalker motif and John Williams’ Force theme. Brilliantly, the two motifs then intertwine together with Yoda’s theme in the subsequent Two Paths Diverged, making for some particularly exquisite and enjoyable Star Wars score overall. With the music having now rapidly moved away from the titular character however the score does then reign itself back in, with loud action taking centre stage once again in subsequent setpieces In The Name Of Honor and Battle For Mos Espa, with the former utilising frantic strings and chanting vocals to particularly dramatic effect and the latter even bringing back Boba Fett’s action motif from The Mandalorian to turn the musical tide. Final Showdown then brings this action sequence to an emphatic close, with Boba’s new theme (from the title cue) standing victorious over the battle.
With the second volume starting to draw to a close, Goodnight slows things right down with gentle strings and piano notes echoing several notes from the Mandalorian’s theme. A Town At Peace then continues this more peaceful tone, with Boba’s new theme getting its first full rendition in quite some time on upbeat percussion and woodwinds, which is then followed by an enthusiastically swift rendition of the Mandalorian’s motif on triumphant brass. The rather short Reign Of Boba Fett then closes the season out fully on a curiously upbeat strings-based note. This isn’t where the album ends though, as the composers have fantastically included several bonus cues from the first half of the season that didn’t make the first album release – first up we’ve got Hit It Max, a jazzy and rather enjoyable musical number from episode four that features some particularly intriguing & odd-sounding instrumentation and vocals. Train Heist is then the highly requested action setpiece from episode two, where both Boba and the new Tusken Raider motifs play in tandem for six minutes of frenetic action score (and would’ve been standout cue if not for Teacher’s Pet). Final track The Bonfire then represents the tribal dance from the end of episode two as Boba is accepted as part of the Tusken tribe, thus closing the album overall on a particularly satisfying note. All-in, volume two only adds to the already pretty damned enjoyable Book Of Boba Fett score, with thematic cameos and orchestral excellence abound.
Standout Cues: 17. The Book Of Boba Fett/8. Teacher’s Pet
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