Soundtrack review: Marcella (Lorne Balfe – 2016)

“Marcella” is a British crime noir detective series. Former detective Marcella Backland is devastated when her husband leaves her and their two children. He is a legal adviser to DTG construction, property developers, effectively controlled by the Gibson family. When she is visited by a senior detective on the murder squad for information regarding an unsolved serial killer 11 years previously who seems to have become active again, Marcella returns to the murder squad. She enters a world of on-line dating, prostitution, and dubious dealings of her husband’s employers while trying to save her marriage. I love British crime series and I’ll get to this one soon. The score was written by Lorne Balfe and this is why I am writing about it.

Lorne is one of the busiest composers out there. He’s close to reaching 20 scores for the past couple of years and that’s a huge workload. It’s the first time I’ve heard him work on a British series. There are only 6 cues available for this show but Lorne doesn’t need more to create a compelling atmosphere. This feels like one of the more experimental scores he’s written. The music shows me a troubled character and a dark world. Some sounds make me think of dark basements where the light is flickering and nothing is permanent. I listen to “Tied hands” and I get a feeling of unease and neurotic behavior. There’s a constant electric pulse running through this cue.

“It was me” lets me know I’m watching a British crime series. Somehow I’ve associated this slow and moody sound with British drama. Lorne can write atmospheric cues with the best of them and this is a prime example. I can only imagine how a score with only cues like this would sound… luckily there’s “I haven’t done anything” which has another gorgeous ambient motif in the beginning before it builds up into a beautiful and meaningful piano piece.

It’s only an exception though as this score is mainly dark industrial. Things get quite uncomfortable and heavy with “Bloody fist” and I wouldn’t want to be there. If I raise the volume of this cue I get the feeling of being inside an MRI room because of the repetitive pulse.

Even if very short, Lorne Balfe’s score for “Marcella” tells me enough to get an idea about the dark and sick atmosphere of the TV show. Add dark industrial to the list of things this extraordinary composer can write.

Cue rating: 80 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 4 / 13

Album excellence: 35%


It was me

I haven’t done anything


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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