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Soundtrack review: House of cards (season 2), Jeff Beal, 2014


Soundtrack review: House of cards (season 2), Jeff Beal, 2014


While I binged watched the show “House of cards”, I didn’t imagine I’d want to listen to its score. I didn’t even imagine there would be a score release, because this is the kind of serious and intense TV show that relies almost exclusively on the wits of their characters to provide the audience with thrills and emotions. It doesn’t need music to enhance the sensation or mark the most important scenes; it’s a very smart show from this point of view. So I must admit that I didn’t pay much attention to the music when I watched it.
Then the score for the second season came out, 2 hours’ worth of music, and since I loved the show so much, I decided to give it a listen, if nothing else only to remember the great time I had watching “House of cards”. To my surprise, what I got was a listening experience I got sucked into very deep, almost as addictive and interesting as the show itself. As expected, the score composed by Jeff Beal is minimalistic and unimposing. I’m a big fan of piano in a film score, and the way it’s used here is absolutely brilliant. Piano isn’t the main character, but it shows up at the right times, just thrown in there like lime in a glass of rum…it doesn’t stay long, it just makes a quick point through a couple of notes and then disappears again…it is smart and shrewd like Frank Underwood himself, and it keeps me on my toes, I never know when the piano is going to make another appearance. The piano inserts are like uneven drops of water dripping from a rusty pipe in a dark and dangerous basement…The score is dark and shadowy, and I get completely lost in it. I really like less than half of it, but somehow I can’t interrupt it. It’s too interesting to do that, and it helps me do whatever I’m doing at the time. I sometimes even forget I’m listening to it before the piano notes drop in again.  This score hides but I can still feel its presence.
Highlights? Sometimes, like on “A gift from Feng” you can hear a high pitched female voice in the background, like a ghost lost somewhere deep in the shadows that populate this score. Other times, there’s the brilliant Kevin Spacey showcasing his vocal talents and singing “Pretty Polly”. And other times there are cues that I just love, sophisticated pieces like “To be a king” and “Mr. President”, the reward for the main character’s struggles…
Definitely more interesting than season 1, the score for “House of cards – season 2” is a smart and addictive composition. It’s clearly one I will listen to again. I’m not sure how it willv fare for people who haven’t watched the show, but I recommend you try it.
My ratings:
Cue rating: 68 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 52 / 116
Album excellence: 45%
Cues to listen to:
House of Cards Main Title (Season Two)
She Fell
A Gift from Feng
Claire’s Secret
Pretty Polly
To Be a King
Read to Me
Jackie Crosses Claire
Tusk Turns
One Degree of Separation
Articles of Impeachment
Mr. President
Distance Myself
Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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