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House Of Cards Season 4 by Jeff Beal (Review)

posted Apr 19, 2016, 2:17 PM by michael@filmmusicmedia.com

House Of Cards is finally back on TV. The series has fascinated me right from the beginning, since both story and characters are simply so intriguing. There has been something unique about each of the three seasons so far and now we have reached the fourth round. The score composed by Jeff Beal serves the series on quite a few levels. It supports the images and characters well, without ever becoming too intrusive or distracting. For every season, a two-cd-set had been produced and this edition of the fourth season makes no exception. It is a huge edition, including no less than fifty-five pieces of music with a total running time of almost 2.5 hours. Now, this is quite a lot of music to listen to.

At the end of season three there was a momentous change in the life of the lead character Frank Underwood who is brilliantly performed by the great Kevin Spacey. The music of the series has changed a bit as well. Jeff Beal's use of electronics certainly has increased, which I thought was a great move by Beal. To me it stands for the harshness and determination as well as the general mood of the series. “Any Less Hurtful” is the first track of this big release. The electronics presented here add a lot to the general tone of the entire score. Nice percussion elements were also thrown into the mix. The “House Of Cards Main Title” has also been given a new treatment. I am not talking about the theme in general, it is more like a makeover. I certainly liked it a lot.

Yet, despite the new sounds and “changes”, the music still maintains the structure and characteristics of the previous House Of Cards scores by Jeff Beal. Cues like “Terminal” have a certain danger to them, yet they are still very elegant. Beal also again used trumpet and strings very effectively. Then you also get pieces like “Texas”, which are very reflective. “Opposing Forces” has some very nice thematic material which was well developed by the composer. “Help You Win” starts with some moody chord progressions, which then turn into a very emotional piece of music. This was the best piece so far. Jeff Beal created a nice balance using the sound he previously established for the series and he adds additional structure and power. Some pieces are really moving. Others have a more unsettling tone, which can be heard in “Madness” and “I Dream Of Zoe”. However, these harsh moments do not dominate the score at all.

Yet, there is also a downside to the score. As I already mentioned at the beginning of my review, there is a lot of material. With so many cues and a total running time of almost 2.5 hours, it might simply be too much. I mean, there is variation as far as the material is concerned and the music is at times beautiful, moving and of course well executed, but I simply felt I could not be hooked by the music all the way through. I cannot quite put my finger on what's really wrong and the music seems fine, yet I really believe it is the running time that lowers the final rating. As much as I love the series and of course the approach Mr. Beal took is the right one for the series, yet the album presentation did not fully satisfy me. The music has moments of great quality for sure, still there is also material which can be skipped. Be that as it may, there is still enough music to satisfy the fans!