By Karol Krok
Title: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Composer: Thomas Newman
The Film: A sequel to a surprise critical and commercial hit from 2012 about a group of pensioners moving to a retirement home/hotel in India. The film features an all-star casts: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy with the appearances from Richard Gere and David Strathairn. The response so far is on part with that to the first film’s and it is likely to become another hit with general audiences.
The Score: Few composers are as original and iconic as Thomas Newman. His career is a combination of a classical education (related to his famous family of musicians) with constant experimentation with ethnic colours. With this score (as well as its predecessor) he toys with a lot of Indian and Bollywood instrumentation which he then combines with his own bittersweet stamp of film scoring.
Distinguishing Features: Thomas Newman makes a great use of different vocal soloist at various points: the gentle performances add nice texture to ’Roll Call’ and ’ Nimish & Abhilash’. ’Balma’ features some really pleasant song from him that proves him as a very skilled tunesmith. ’Busy Pensioner Bee’ brings in trademark woodwind writing from the composer while ’Soft Hiss of Treachary’ brings in fuller string section. ’Scorpions’ offers one of the few tense moments and the entire final sections offers a surprisingly muted and nostalgic finale, even in its more energetic vocal performances (’Map of the World’). The album is also enriched by three songs – ’Ye Ishq Hai”, ’Aila Re Aila’ and ’Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’.
Final Thoughts: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not likely to become one of Thomas Newman’s iconic scores but it offers a rare glimpse into his more lighthearted side. The more ethnically-focused colour palette will help to create a more coherent listening experience, even if thematic writing is somewhat more elusive, typically for this composer. An hour-long album is a pleasant experience.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is out now from Sony Classical