TV

Soundtrack review: Mr. Selfridge (Charlie Mole – 2016)

selfridge
If you like easy listening big band music or jazzy moments, this one will be for you. It’s relaxing like a summer’s day spent at the countryside

“Mr Selfridge” is a British period television drama series about Harry Gordon Selfridge and his department store, Selfridge & Co, in London, set in the 1910s. His 30-year leadership of Selfridges led to his becoming one of the most respected and wealthy retail magnates in the United Kingdom. Harry Selfridge, who arrives in London intent on building the world’s largest department store on Oxford Street. Helped by his association with socialite Lady Mae Moxley (Katherine Kelly), Harry soon has the financial backing necessary for his plans, resulting in the store being completed in record time. However, as the company becomes more successful, Harry’s marriage to his wife Rose (Frances O’Connor) is jeopardized by his continuing infatuation with music hall artiste, Ellen Love (Zoë Tapper). The score is written by Charlie Mole.

The British TV land has always been one of my favorite places to look for great scores. They always surprise me with a new sound or mood and “Mr. Selfridge” is no different. Here I am in the middle of a joyful composition which makes me think of figure skating dance. The big band makes the music glide effortlessly and it doesn’t take more than a few minutes for this score to put me in a very good mood. Just listen to “Harry’s theme” and how wonderfully charming it is. I feel as if I am at a celebration of some sorts enjoying a glass of wine and great conversation in front of a castle.

The delightfulness is sugar coating the entire score. Sometimes it’s jazzy, other times it’s quirky or playful and these little variations make me sway my head and keep a smile on my face for the whole 70 minutes of the album. I wonder if the atmosphere on the TV show is just as appealing. There are cues when I feel I’m watching a cabaret show or a musical. There are no vocal parts but the music is powerful enough on its own to guarantee an amusing listening experience.

The composer stays true to the mood he sets even when more dramatic moments come along. The piano stays rolling and doesn’t get sad but the strings come to tone it down and provide the necessary shadow. “The family leaves” is a perfect example for this. Other dramatic moments benefit from a soft female voice vocalizing in the background, like “Harry’s crash”. The piano never stops playing and this cue reminds me of James Horner’s “A beautiful mind”.

It will be easy to decide if you like this score. Just sample a couple of cues because no matter which cues you might try they will be faithful to the whole score. If you like easy listening big band music or jazzy moments, this one will be for you. It’s relaxing like a summer’s day spent at the countryside, complete with the pleasant chill and shadow of the evening as the final few cues get serious….

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 68

Album excellence: 36%

Highlights:

The Beginning

The Family Comes Home

Harry’s Theme

Henri & The Sprinkler

The Rose

The Family Leaves

Harry’s Crash

The Casino

The Colleano Blues

The Sale

My Lungs

Our Place

I Can’t Marry You

Henri and Agnes Leave

The end

 

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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