Ever since I saw it over in Cannes earlier this year, Drive has imprinted itself indelibly upon my psyche as one of the most effortlessly cool flicks of not only this year but any year. It is a curio of the highest order, consciously refusing generic traditions and reinventing the way tone and subject matter coexist on screen in a manner that is both jarring and hugely affecting.
The official soundtrack, by former Red Hot Chilli Peppers drummer Cliff Martinez follows the trend set by the film itself, hopping genres effortlessly, but retaining a fundamental linked essence through every track that builds up an identity as important to the film as Ryan Gosling’s Driver himself. Within the space of just nineteen tracks
A lot of commenters seem content to label Drive a “bad-ass” film, a grindhouse infusion of action and simmering indie drama, with a particularly brutal fascination with violence and the currency of blood – but it is far more artfully conceived than that moniker suggests.It is an oxymoron of a movie, just as Driver is a contradiction of a character, his calm demeanour belying an undercurrent and capacity for huge violence and power, and that tone undoubtedly complicates the relationship between the visuals and any soundtrack.
Authenticity counts for a lot here. Much like the films occasionally timeless feel, Martinez’s soundtrack is both perfectly rooted in 1980s electronic, and at the same time wholly contemporary. The influences are obvious, from Blondie and Kraftwerk through poppier fare like Human League and to modern electronic bands like Daft Punk and most explicitly to begin with Feix Da Housecat.
The stand-out track for me is easily “Nightcall” by Kavinsky and Lovefoxxx of Brazilian dance-rock outfit CSS, which is achingly hip, with the perfect blend of melancholy, in Lovefoxxx’s vocal, and that ominous undercurrent that personifiesthe film’s protagonist in its opening track. Here it is for you enjoyment:
Alongside Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy, and Hans Zimmer’s Inception, Drive is easily one of the stand out soundtracks of the past year or so – it is impressive as both an instrumental score (with the second half mostly composed of such tracks) and a particularly fine collection of eletronic songs in their own right. And more than anything there is an aura about the tracks, and the firm whiff of muscle cars, and neon-bleached night-time cityscapes and the confidence and swagger of a score that knows how appropriately it matches its film.
The mark of any truly great score is that it can be listened to and enjoyed outside of the film experience, that it transcends its status as a secondary source. And Drive’s OST certainly manages it – it is a precisely formed, perfectly suited driving soundtrack, which meets Windign Refn’s need to offer an authentic musical answer not only to the film, but to the idea of the hero, cruising in his element. This is exactly the music that the Driver would choose as his own soundtrack, and in that final summary sits the headiest praise I could give to Cliff Martinez.
Finally, here’s the tracklist:
- “Nightcall” – Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx
- “Under Your Spell” – Desire
- “A Real Hero” – College feat. Electric Youth
- “Oh My Love” – Riz Ortolani feat. Katyna Ranieri
- “Tick of the Clock” – The Chromatics
- “Rubber Head”
- “I Drive”
- “He Had a Good Time”
- “They Broke His Pelvis”
- “Kick Your Teeth”
- Where’s The Deluxe Version?”
- “See You in Four”
- “After The Chase”
- “Wrong Floor”
- “Skull Crushing”
- “My Name on a Car”
- “On The Beach”
- “Bride of Deluxe”
Cliff Martinez’s Drive soundtrack is available to buy now.