I had several ledes planned for this week’s ‘best new album’ feature. There was the one I began on of Montreal’s new album Innocence Reaches, then the one for the sequel to Rae Sremmurd’s debut. While those albums – as well as Blind Pilot’s And Then Like Lions – all have their moments, nothing is quite as absorbing as the work done by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein on the Stranger Things, Vol. 1 OST. After the critical and commercial success that was Stranger Things, the cross-promotional material was sure to follow. It certainly helps that the music was one of the ten best things about the show’s first season. But it’s something else entirely to create a full soundtrack around the show’s musical moments, a soundtrack that is as warm and chilly as the series it serves.
The soundtrack’s best moments harken back to the golden days of John Carpenter compositions – as well as taking cues from more contemporary fare such as the Drive soundtrack.
Being a television score, the tracks on Stranger Things are decidedly aimed to act as background music, but some moments are surprisingly vital in the realm of this soundtrack. Songs such as “Kids,” “She’ll Kill You” and “Eleven” glisten with an emotional, tender grace. You’re reminded of the series, yes, but it also opens up into something else, a portal into the upside down.
Stranger Things is one of the best TV shows this year in part because of its adoration for genre pieces that came before it. On the OST, Dixon and Stein deftly match the tone of the series by expanding on the small moments that helped set the stage. Stranger Things, Vol. 1 isn’t just a companion piece to its source material. It stands firmly on its own two feet, defying gravity.