When we first saw Drive, we walked out at the end with two things in our heads. A kaleidoscope of stunning images from what could well be the movie of the year, and the inescapable ’80s/out-of-time earworm melody of a song called ‘A Real Hero’ by a band called College. Frustratingly, we had no idea where to get the track. Now (finally!) we get to stick it on our MP3 players with the rest of the film’s soundtrack.
There are four other ‘proper songs’ on the OST, three of which boast a similar mix of classic synth sounds with an irresistible, super-slick 21st century sheen that outdoes Neon Neon’s sparky 2008 record Stainless Style. There’s the atmospheric opening credits ‘Night Call’ by Kavinsky (featuring sultry vocals from CSS’s Lovefoxxx), the similarly heavenly ‘Under Your Spell’ from Desire and tension-inducing, wordless ‘Tick of the Clock’ from Portland band Chromatics.
As a bonus, there’s also the wonderfully incongruous torch song ‘Oh My Love’ by Riziero Ortolani and Katyna Ranieri. Taken without their visual accompaniment, tracks might lack a little bit of their impact, but not that much.
Then comes the movie instrumentals from Cliff Martinez, a former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer-turned-soundtrack maestro (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Traffic, Contagion). The score features track-after-track of brooding vintage keyboards which, like the songs, genuinely work on your headphones without the film.
The titles are blankly descriptive (‘I Drive’, ‘After The Chase’) or – like the film – occasionally hilarious with their in-your-face ultraviolence (‘Kick Your Teeth’, ‘Hammer’, ‘Skull Crushing’ and ‘They Broke His Pelvis’ raise a guilty smile). It loses one star for being frontloaded with the non-Martinez songs (on this digital version at least), rather than mixing it up for a better listening experience, but like the movie itself, this is essential stuff.