I’ve never reviewed a film score before, not really. I’ve reviewed albums that were the “soundtrack” to certain short films and that sort of thing, but I’ve never sat down and wrote a review for a score after I watched the associated film. I should do that more, since I listen to film scores almost daily. So, for my first such review, I want to talk about Come True, a psychological horror thriller and the amazing soundtrack that released on February 26th this year.
Come True is a great film, though I could see why some wouldn’t like it. It is slow, methodical, textured, and definitely abstract. In fact, it revels and glories in abstraction. The story follows a homeless girl who undergoes an experimental sleep study, which ends up awakening all sorts of things within her. The ending is, perhaps, a little predictable and unoriginal, but I felt like the journey was what really counted here.
One aspect of the film that really stuck out to me was the design of the dream sequences. The main character would find herself drifting eerily through dark, shadowy places. The camera moves forward slowly but steadily, and we see all sorts of amorphous objects and dead bodies and unsettling scenery, but it almost always ends with a shadowy figure with glowing eyes: eyes that burn themselves into her brain, and also into mine.
These sequences are so effective, and a huge part of this is the music. The music is ethereal, foggy, and ambient. The melodies are so soft and so pensive that you can almost feel the electrical impulses running up and down your spine. You can feel yourself drifting into a deep sleep; into a void of mind, right alongside the character in the film.
Come True has a masterful score. The score is a collaboration between two artists, Electric Youth and Pilotpriest. Electric Youth are a two-piece from Ontario, Canada, consisting of Bronwyn Griffin and Austin Garrick. They generally are labelled as pop, dance, and electronica. I’m not sure those labels are accurate entirely, though each of those genres is certainly present. I found myself listening to their most recent studio album, Memory Emotion (2019), and their music is far more suspended, cinematic, and mental than those genres typically possess. They focus on airy compositions full of melody and hazy light, and there is a certainly level of 80s synth and New Wave influence in them, too.
Pilotpriest is the DJ name for Ontario’s Anthony Scott Burns, and he is also the director of the film itself. Pilotpriest is basically his music-making avatar. He has created several albums and EPs of soundtrack music, typically leaning into the synth and electronic end of things. He has actually released a studio album and an EP this very year.
I think this collaboration is a complete success. The first two tracks on the album are basically Electric Youth songs. They feel very Lost Boys and 80s in general, and these are gorgeous. “Modern Fears” is the opener, and I love the chorus and the overlay from Pilotpriest. It feels fresh and addictive. “Runaway” is a little darker, but I think I like it even better. It’s addictive synth hook really gets me, and Bronwyn’s voice sounds so rich here.
The following 13 tracks are much different. They are cautious, slow-burning ambient electronic music for the most part. Bronwyn’s voice can be heard on several tracks, like the evocative “Coelocanth”, a haunting and smoky work of art. She can also be heard on the title track, which is sort of like a musing ballad or lullaby. For the most part, though, the rest of the album does not have vocals outside of some harmonies.
I love this album. You will notice, if you are a fan of Donnie Darko, that this film and its score sort of follow a chaptered structure, complete with obscure titles and meaningful implications. The music here takes its time, focusing on downtempo feelings and ambient textures. It doesn’t feel grainy, though, more smooth and enlightened than anything else.
I have many favorites, such as “The Seeker”, a gentle, illustrious track with a great central melody, Blade Runner-esque emotions, and a calm climax. Many of the songs in the first half are extremely ambient and moody, and definitely require attention from the listener. “Lost Girl” and “Rested” are good examples of this muted tone.
The second half of the album has more flair, I think. Songs like “Hall of Glass” and “Watching” have more character and transitions in tone, and I love them. Another song, “Nothing”, is full of anxiety and tension. The last couple tracks, “Sarah” and “Forgiven”, are floating beauties. I especially like “Forgiven” as the closer with its emotional implications and almost this sense of relief and freedom. This goes hand in hand with the film, so maybe I’m projecting my knowledge of the ending onto the music. Still, I love the feelings it evokes.
Come True is a great movie, but the score is even better. It has sparked my interest in both Electric Youth and Pilotpriest because of how balanced, mature, and evenhanded the whole thing feels. Subtlety is celebrated here. Color and shadow become lovers. Ambience and evocation eclipse everything. This is probably my favorite score in at least a few years.
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