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Skylanders Giants by Lorne Balfe

Skylanders Giants

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Skylanders Giants (Soundtrack) by Lorne Balfe
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Skylanders Giants (Soundtrack) by Lorne Balfe

Skylanders Giants
Composed by Lorne Balfe
Lakeshore Records (2012)

Rating: 7/10

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“SKYLANDERS: GIANTS is, on the most part, grounded and tangible; an enjoyable, toe-tapping listening experience which doesn’t get too carried away with its own lively spirit.”

Flamboyant Fun
Review by Thomas Midena

 

Before listening to this soundtrack I had never heard of the SKYLANDERS franchise, so I approached this score as a newcomer. It turns out that I wasn’t prepared for the fun I was about to have with LORNE BALFE’s delightful and enthralling score for SKYLANDERS: GIANTS.

SKYLANDERS: GIANTS is the follow-up to last year’s Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. The video game sees players delve into a fantasy world of battle and adventure. SKYLANDERS: GIANTS is LORNE BALFE’s return to the Skylanders franchise, and he has pounced on the opportunity to develop and expand the vibrant music of this colourful world.

SKYLANDERS: GIANTS is cheeky, mischievous, upbeat and energetic. With so much soundtrack music of late aiming to be dark, grim and sparse, I found it refreshing to hear something so enthusiastic and carefree. BALFE has crafted a surprisingly enjoyable listening experience in its own right, even for those ignorant of the context of the game like myself.

First of all you should be warned that this intensely melodic score is dangerously catchy. Shreds of this soundtrack will get stuck in your head and could be difficult to remove … in a good way. For example, “Giants” (1) introduces a confident and passionate string-driven motif. It’s beautiful, my only complaint being that the track is short and therefore we don’t get to spend much time with this theme. “Cuttthroat Carnvial” (4) similarly demonstrates the way BALFE introduces a great little motif and uses the entirety of a track to build and play with it. By the end the melody is happily embedded into the listener’s brain.

The score succeeds any synthesized restraints of the genre. BALFE appears to mix live orchestra and digital effects so tightly that I’m unsure when one ends and the other begins, all the while curating a child-like wonder of exploration and adventure. Many beats of the score not unwelcomely remind me of pirates, due to the often rousing sense of flamboyant swashbuckling. And what’s astonishing is that it isn’t corny or cheesy. The childish wonder in the music feels natural and unforced, which is an enormous achievement.
“Aerial Attack” (9) is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Yet another confident little motif is looped with the orchestration changing constantly, often mid-motif - as one instrument takes the place of another without missing a beat. This creates a sense of orchestral scale, adding to the brilliant lively atmosphere. An almost-but-not-really sombre theme appears for a final farewell in “Bringing Order To Kaos” (15), just in case your head wasn’t already filled to bursting with BALFE’s colourful melodies. A hint of chorals and the majestic use of strings make this a perfectly sincere ending to a solid score.

To be honest I don’t expect much when I press play on a soundtrack from a family-friendly videogame. However, BALFE knocked this one out of the park. SKYLANDERS: GIANTS is another demonstration that the musical side of videogames is positively thriving with creativity. The album is quite short at roughly 32 minutes in length, but it uses the time it has beautifully and the length feels appropriate. This score put a smile on my face, it was an absolute joy to listen to.

In my experience light and whimsical soundtracks like this can often become unbalanced, following the colourful nature of the game it is scoring with such focus that it forgets to be good music. LORNE BALFE hasn’t fallen into this trap. SKYLANDERS: GIANTS is, on the most part, grounded and tangible; an enjoyable, toe-tapping listening experience which doesn’t get too carried away with its own lively spirit. My enjoyment of this ‘feel-good’ score demonstrates its prowess as a musical album separated from the context of the game. SKYLANDERS: GIANTS is not a score that should be taken too seriously. However, if you accept it as a fantastical romp of carefree adventure, you might just have a great time like I did.

 

Rating: 7/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Giants 1:38  ****
2 Junkyard Isles 2:38  ****
3 Rumbletown 2:40  ***
4 Cutthroat Carnival 2:33  ****
5 Glacier Gully 2:39  ***
6 Secret Vault of Secrets 2:28  ***
7 The Oracle 0:51  **
8 Wilikin Village 2:05  ****
9 Aerial Attack 2:30  ****
10 Drill-X's Big Rig 2:45  ***
11 Molekin Mountain 1:31  ****
12 Arena Battle 0:41  **
13 Autogyro Adventure 2:54  ****
14 Slippery Tunnel 1:35  ***
15 Bringing Order to Kaos 2:31  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 32 minutes  

 

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