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Soundtrack review: Band of robbers (Joel P West – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Band of robbers (Joel P West – 2016)


“Band of robbers” is a comedic adventure that re-imagines Mark Twain’s iconic literary characters of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer as grown men in current day. Petty criminal Huck Finn hopes to leave his criminal life behind when he is released from a stint in prison, but his lifelong friend, and corrupt cop, Tom Sawyer, has other plans. Not ready to give up on his childhood fantasies of wealth and adventure, Tom forms the “Band of Robbers,” recruiting their misfit friends Joe Harper and Ben Rogers, to join them for an elaborate plan to find a fabled treasure. The score was written by Joel P West and I really liked his score for “Grandma” last year.

I am simply charmed by the overture. Yes this cue tells me that I am revisiting childhood friends and that they are all grown up and more serious now. The warm Western banjo sound dances with chimes and a marching band percussion to create a playful and meaningful opening cue. West’s brand of minimalism suits me and also brings the nostalgia of my favorite Western scores.

This feeling deepens as the score progresses and the simple inserts of xylophones and strings play with each other. I smile as I remember the more amusing western scenes and cues from countless movies. The music in “Band of robbers” is engaging and fun to listen to and it alternates between western and European comedy, both sounds that mean a lot to me. I’m sure the composer didn’t use more than 3 or 4 instruments but boy do they work. It’s interesting how listening to this score makes me think of Morricone of all people because the sound is right there at the edge between the far west and the French Riviera.

Joel P West’s composition makes me feel good. There’s no doubt about it; this score invites me to relax and play with it and I feel the sweet burn of an endless late summer afternoon’s sun on my skin. The music makes me think of an exhausting vacation day of playing and exploring familiar territories. I remember the park I used to play in as a kid and I remember how we used to play cowboys and Indians. Nothing in this score is aggressive; the music is warm and friendly. How can you not be charmed by a cue like “The coin”? This is where I discover the main theme of the movie and I love it.

“Band of robbers” is a delightful and nostalgic little score that’s a rare appearance in today’s film music. The sound borders with the Nick Cave and Warren Ellis sound I love so much and once again this composer knows how to make an impression and I will eagerly await his next creations.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 11 / 24

Album excellence: 45%


Things Aren’t That Different


The Coin

The Spoils


I Got This One

Wander On


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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