Stranger Things - Original Television Soundtrack
Released by: Lakeshore Records
Released on: August 12th, 2016
Purchase from Amazon
The clamor from fans for the soundtrack to Netflix's hit summer series Stranger Things was almost immediate after the show hit streaming devices last July. Well, it turns out we didn't have to wait all that long, as Lakeshore Records recently announced that they'd be releasing two separate volumes of music from the series, the first one which is currently available over on Apple Music. Meanwhile, pre-orders for the CD version are currently upon Amazon, with a vinyl issue scheduled for later on in the year.
The composers for the series are a Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, otherwise known as the Austin-based duo S U R V I V E. The group have been kicking around for a couple years now, releasing a number of EPs and albums via their Bandcamp, and have a signed to Relapse for their next recording RR7349, due out in September. This score for Stranger Things is highly likely to send to band's profile into some comparatively mainstream attention, bolstered by their connections with Netflix, Relapse and Lakeshore.
The score itself is synthesizer based, but thankfully avoids the persistent retro pandering which can sometimes inundate groups from Synthwave genre. This is largely thanks to cues such as "Hawkins," or "The Upside Down" which work more as atmosphere-inducing soundscapes than a cloying attempt at writing cute melodies simply for the sake of appealing to nostalgia. This isn't to say that the Stranger Things score isn't melodic, however, as S U R V I V E certainly know how to work their way around a hook, as evidenced by "Kids," or the maddeningly memorable main theme that everyone loves.
Overall, Dixon and Stein work out a nice balance between sounds which evoke the 80s sci-fi and fantasy films upon whose tropes Stranger Things enjoys to build, and those which push forward synth scores as a means which can still manage to be original and thought provoking. There's darkness and light, shade and shine and a whole lot of great moods to be had here within volume one of Stranger Things: here's hoping that there's even more greatness to come here from the boys in S U R V I V E.