Need for Speed

Composed By: Nathan Furst

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Based on the series of video games by the same name, Need for Speed stars Aaron Paul as former race car driver turned everyday mechanic Tobey Marshall.  Marshall owns a garage in Mount Kisco, New York, where he and his friends work on performance cars while participating in street races after hours to make ends meet.  An uneasy alliance with rival racer Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) leaves a member of Marshall's crew (Harrison Gilbertson) dead with Marshall holding the bag for a manslaughter charge.  Two years later, Marshall sets out to avenge his friend's death by competing in the De Leon, a winner takes all race in San Francisco, California, but first he has to get there and that's something Brewster and his henchmen are dead set against.

                The musical score of Need for Speed was created by American composer and self-taught musician Nathan Furst.  Composing music at a very young age, Furst decided to forgo getting a college degree for the opportunity to begin a career in his chosen field.  Furst has since worked on musical scores for a number of successful projects including Max Steele, Bionicle: Mask of Light, Dust to Glory, Lake Placid 2 and Point of Entry.  But he has received the most critical acclaim for the musical score he created for the dramatic film Act of Valor.

                Having seen the video game, I was expecting a musical score that would reflect the fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping action associated with it.  But this is a movie adaptation of the video game and I probably should have known better.  According to Furst, "We purposefully stayed away from the huge percussion and drum sounds that have come to be expected from this kind of score.  Instead, we went with orchestral textures with a lot of ambient, clean guitars." 

                The resulting score is somewhat heroic in nature and much more dramatic than would be expected from an action film.  It almost has the feel of a military film, what with the brass section performances, but is somewhat tamer than your blow 'em up shoot 'em up action flick thanks to the orchestra and guitars.  Still, the horns, electric guitars and percussion do offer up some action feel in tracks like Koenigsegg Race, Motor City Mayhem and Utah Escape

                There are some really impressive brass section performances on this album and the electric guitar riffs are awesome.  My only complaint about this soundtrack is that it seems too long.  It probably isn't when heard as background music for the film, but when listened to as a stand alone album, many of the track endings have a distinctive flourish, indicating resolution to whatever the situation is the music was composed for.  That "resolution" sound appears on one too many tracks toward the end.  Thus, when the listener says to his/herself, "Ah, this must be the climax of the film," the album says, "Ha, ha, fooled you!  You still have two or three more tracks to go!"

                Other than that, I found the Need for Speed Soundtrack to be quite an unexpectedly interesting and highly enjoyable experience.  Nathan Furst does an excellent job in blending orchestral sounds with those of ambient and acoustic guitars, skirting away from what listeners would expect out of an action film score and choosing instead to focus on the more dramatic themes of the film.  Need for Speed is an album well worth the listen, whether or not the movie is worth seeing.


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