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Soundtrack review: The journey – Hunter returns (Junkie XL – 2017)

Game scores

Soundtrack review: The journey – Hunter returns (Junkie XL – 2017)


“The journey – Hunter returns” is a game mode for FIFA 18. After a breakthrough first year in the Premier League, the whole world is talking about Alex Hunter. He’s back for a second season and, following a tumultuous transfer saga, he’ll have the chance to compete at some of the biggest clubs in world football: PSG, FC Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, and LA Galaxy. The score was written by Junkie XL. If It’s the Junkie alter ego it means Tom Holkenborg goes full adrenaline for this one. The album has 10 and long cues.

Of course a story mode inside a soccer game needs to be heroic and spectacular. I am looking for cues to use in my running playlists from this score. But in any sports competition one starts with the warmup and this is what “Brave as a lion” is for me, the musical warmup of this score. Junkie keeps his music tame for this opening cue which is still a delightful electronic piece that already gives me some retro vibes. Once the warm up is done, the sorcery starts and “Make it count” pulsates and pounds with rhythmic electronic motifs that make me want to get off my chair and work out. The pace still isn’t that insane one the composer had in “Mad Max: fury road” but it works better for the sports theme. I remember in the synth and aerobics craze of the early 90s with the colourful spandex suits and head bands, when it wasn’t hip hop this was the sound they used so there is nostalgia in this score for me.

The heroic theme comes on in “Runs in the family” which is part emotional, part heroic and I connect with it instantly. Junkie nails the heroic sound with just the right acoustic guitar motif and once again I have 90s Michael Bay movies in my head. The music also reminds me of Junkie’s score for the surf documentary from last year, “Distance between dreams”. The pure and hypnotic ambient melancholy of “Risky move” makes this my favourite cue from the score even if it’s quiet. Naturally the hierarchies change seconds later as the next cue, “Star treatment” lifts me up and throws me in the middle of a deep nostalgia pool with a sound that reminds me of the late 80s when I would go with my family at the seaside, a 5 hours drive, and this was the kind of music we had on our tapes for the road: melodic, almost lush synth electronic melodies and I am running out of compliments for this score. Junkie XL knows and loves this sound and he went in his synth lab and came out with an anthem that I can’t get enough of.

“The journey – Hunter returns” is another declaration of love from Junkie XL / Tom Holkenborg to the synth. As we share the same passion and since the retro 80s sound is my favourite musical place to be in I am just delighted to be in this time machine. Nostalgia is high and I just can’t get enough of this score that I’ve already started listening to again. The chill retro vibes crafted by a maestro like Junkie XL make for a score I will keep very close and come back to very often. Thanks Tom for keeping the synth sound alive so well.

Cue rating: 96 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 58

Album excellence: 69%

Make It Count
Runs in the Family
Risky Move
Star Treatment
A New Galaxy
The Journey Begins
The Williams Is Back
No More Stealth Mode

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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