Life of Crime
Composed By: The Newton Brothers
Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Based on the Elmore Leonard novel The Switch, Life of Crime stars Jennifer Aniston as Margaret Dawson, wife of corrupt real estate developer Frank Dawson (Tim Robbins). When Margaret is abducted by two bumbling common criminals (Yasiin Bey and John Hawkes) looking for some quick dough. Problem: Frank has no intention of paying the ransom, happy to be rid of the wife he was going to divorce and making way for the mistress (Isla Fisher) to move in.
The musical score of Life of Crime was created by the composing team of Andy Grush and Taylor Newton Stewart, better known as The Newton Brothers. Eclectic music aficionados and performers, between the two of them, this composing team can play the flute, piano, guitar, clarinet, accordion, sax, harmonica, organ, cello, kazoo and percussion. They often combine their classical music training with electronics and manipulated sound.
For Life of Crime, The Newton Brothers decided to pay homage to the time period of the film. According to Taylor Newton Stewart, "Because this takes place in the 70ís we used a lot of vintage instruments and recording techniques from that period. We used bongos, organs, wah-guitar, flute, trumpet, and others, but we also sprinkled a little synthesizers underneath it to give it a slight modern feel at times." The resulting score has that funk/jazz feel that reminds me of the crime dramas I watched as a kid like Charlie's Angels, SWAT, Mod Squad, etc. I've listened to a few Newton Brothers' scores by now and wasn't surprised to find some whistling and la-la vocals mixed in here and there as well. The last track of the album, Hearts on Ice, presumably played during final credits, has a more modern feel to it, but the rest of the album is more of that jazzy funk.
It's that funk/jazz that left a smile on my face from first track to last. Sure, the score has an old-style movie feel, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. In fact, I had a great deal of fun listening to the Life of Crime Soundtrack and have no doubt that other soundtrack aficionados will as well.