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Soundtrack review: Fargo year 2 (Jeff Russo – 2016)


Soundtrack review: Fargo year 2 (Jeff Russo – 2016)


Just like the show itself, the music of “Fargo” has a special kind of sound and mood. When you listen to a cue from this series you know where it’s from instantly. Carter Burwell laid the groundwork in his score for the original movie from 20 years ago and that main theme still resonates in my head, dramatic and haunting. Jeff Russo took over for the show and kept the music in the same universe. The second season aired a few months ago and even it was one of the best things on TV this year even if I still prefer the first one because of how great Michael Shannon and Billy Bob Thornton were. In season two we travel back in time to 1979 and find out what happened in the “Sioux Falls massacre”.

The main theme is the wilder and more unstable daughter of Carter Burwell’s original for me. The beginning is loud and bold before the music settles down like the North Dakota snow. This is the theme that ties movie and separate seasons before this score separates itself and goes to 1979. The main visual elements (snow and blood) and the time setting of the show are carefully woven in the fabric of this score.

I like the structure of the album because besides moments written for specific scenes it also includes quite a few themes written especially for characters whether they are Dodd, Hanzee, Rye or Murder itself. Having watched the show I am having fun associating the faces and behaviors with the pieces that Jeff Russo wrote. The 70s funk and confusion makes “Rye’s theme” sound genuine and chaotic in the same time. The wooden percussion and the easy to follow beat make me want to keep the rhythm with my fingers. I listen to “Dodd’s theme” and I can almost see the way he was filmed, almost from below as it to appear bigger and tougher than he really was inside. It’s fascinating to me that even if during the show I didn’t pay much attention to the music because I was following the on screen insanity, the score brings back images to my mind.

As always if I focus only on the music I am more drawn to the quieter and deeper pieces. Cues like “Ed burns clothes” or “Gerhardt bed” are right up my alley even if moments like those are rare in the TV show. “Fargo” is all about darkness, chaos and murderous irony and the score represents that. You will get everything you need in hear: the late 70s funkiness, darkness galore, comedic moments and a couple of massacre themes that are as spectacular and in your face as the scenes themselves. You will also get a chaotic order of cues and few musical surprises such as the addictive percussion in “Peggy stabs Hanzee”.

“Fargo year 2” was more lively and varied than the first season and did a great job expanding the musical universe of the show. Great score both in context and as a standalone listen.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 27 / 65

Album excellence: 42%


Fargo Main Theme (Sioux Falls)

Year 2 Murder Theme

Ed Burns Clothes

Gerhardt Bed

Massacre at Sioux Falls

Peggy and Ed

Remembering The Movie

Simone’s Harp

Herman’s Malt

Attack on Gerhardts

Whistle Open

Bemidji, MN (Fargo Series Main Theme)

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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