Film scores

Soundtrack review: The toy soldiers (Nathaniel Levisay – 2015)

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“The toy soldiers” takes place in the 1980’s and focuses on a group of teenagers whose stories intertwine and meet with tragedy. The film is told in a non-linear fashion, and composer Nathaniel Levisay gets an opportunity to get deep within the tumultuous culture of teenage sex and drugs. From the entire presentation of the movie and score all that registered was “takes place in the 80s” and “sonic soundscape of that period”. I don’t need to know more. That is my favorite musical period and musical sound so I expect big shots of nostalgia from this one.

The score opens with the aptly titled “The 1980s”. I wish every score would have a cue like this; they should make it obligatory that every score has a throwback 1980s cue. Nathaniel Levisay’s opening is a little shy on the nostalgia. It does have that electronic and ambient sound but it doesn’t dig very deep. It sounds ok but as an introduction to something bigger. It gets pretty addictive though and I like it even if it’s not as flashy as I would have expected.

“Prove something to the world” gets closer to that sweet nostalgic spot with a synth pad which paints a dark and ambient soundscape. It’s still quiet but oh does it bring back memories of my favorite decade… it’s a 6 minutes long electronic sea in which I like to swim. Each pulse is like one of those colorful jellyfishes that sometimes make a night seem magical. The nostalgia momentum keeps going with “Rock hard” and I’ve already gotten my fix from this score. This one brushes in on a “Terminator” level of darkness.

Slowly the music morphs from that 80s alloy to a more modern dramatic look; still quiet, still minimalistic but a little more serious. The music still appeals to me and I stay connected but for different reasons. Now I enjoy the reflective sound even if it’s modern. It’s as if reality stepped in on my time travel and I still hear echoes of the fantasy mixing with the current sound. Nathaniel Levisay brings me back with the very ambient and ironically titled “Our rad beats couldn’t save this place”.

The calmness of “The toy soldiers” is very special and I can’t walk away from it. This is a different kind of dramatic, quieter, more intimate and it’s the kind of score I will keep a fond memory of. I was about to say that being so quiet is what prevents this score for becoming memorable but it would have been wrong. I enjoyed every minute of it and I know in which moments I will return to this composition. This was a very rewarding mix of 80s, ambient and slow burning drama and I recommend it. The album ends with a few vocal songs by Daily Bread and Gliss which are just the most delicious desert for an 80s kid.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 18 / 39

Album excellence: 45%

Highlights:

Prove Something To The World

We’re Rock Hard

Our Rad Beats Couldn’t Save This Place

You

The One Who Loves You

About the author

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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