Review: The True Detective Soundtrack (Finally!)


A few days ago, HBO finally got around to releasing the soundtrack to True Detective. The release covers both seasons, but heavily favors the second. The artwork doesn’t even have a hint of True Detective season one anywhere on it. Fans have been practically begging HBO to release a soundtrack for well over a year, but it looks like this is as close as we’re going to get.

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All in all, it does a serviceable job.

It starts off with Leonard Cohen’s “Nevermind,” which is the theme to season two. The next six songs are all from season two as well, including the excellent Nick Cave track that plays during the first episode credits. Also included are all the Lera Lynn songs that can be heard sprinkled throughout True Detective’s controversial second season.

This is broken up by a haunting song by John Paul White, but it fits right in with Lera Lynn’s stark sounds. Lera Lynn by far gets the most time here, with a whopping five songs out of fourteen. It’s a good things True Detective fans are happy with her contribution to season two.

Of course, from season one we have the opening “Far From Any Road” by The Handsome Family and then a rendition of “The Angry River” by S.I Istwa and Father John Misty. The highlights, by far, are the songs from season two. This is, of course, by design, as almost nothing else from season one is present.

It doesn’t feel like we’re getting the entire picture.

What’s missing, and is really what True Detective fans were after from a soundtrack release, is the entire score. None of T. Bone Burnett’s score is present, making this feel more like a standard film soundtrack filled with insert songs. Although many of these songs were written for True Detective, it doesn’t feel like we’re getting the entire picture. Because we’re not.

It’s nice to have a collection of music from True Detective, but it doesn’t exactly feel like the soundtrack experience it could have been. The entire album runs about 45 minutes, much like the standing running time of a single-disc vinyl. Maybe that’s what it’s supposed to feel like; some old vinyl release.

So, no, it’s not everything it could or should be. Where is all the haunting T. Bone Burnett score work? If you want notes on how to do a proper soundtrack release for a show like True Detective, just check out what Hannibal has done by showcasing Brian Reitzell’s disturbing, yet unforgettable compositions.

Is True Detective not worthy of similar treatment?

You can pick up the True Detective soundtrack digitally on iTunes and Amazon, or on CD just about anywhere.

Next: This is the best tribute to True Detective season two.

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