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Stranger Things 2 [Original Series Soundtrack] *
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  • Electronic masterminds Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein (half of synth outfit S U R V I V E) return with their score for the second series of the widely acclaimed Stranger Things. If there was any apprehension about the score for Stranger Things, Vol. 2 being a bog-standard continuation of its predecessor, it is and it isn't. While the sound palette remains largely the same, the composers have made the decision to introduce new themes, motifs, and reprises that encapsulate the growth and development evident in the characters. Early on there's "Home," a reprise of Vol. 1's "Kids," albeit with its lead melody buried in resonant organ awash with reverb and lightly pulsating bass. One notable difference is the increased use of percussion: "Soldiers" and "The Return" are composed of tightly wound drums that carry the mix along with them -- the latter features a wonderfully modulated and pitch-shifted synth lead that wouldn't sound out of place on John Carpenter's score for Escape from New York. What seems to be continually obvious in the show is just how well the tone evokes the sense of camaraderie in a small- town community, evident in the classic '80s sci-fi movies that it's honoring -- Dixon and Stein manage to sonically depict this with pieces that can stand up as evocative anthems in their own right. One such example is the album opener -- "Walkin' in Hawkins" -- which is neither ominous nor strictly benevolent. Its rising and falling arpeggiated synth leads and burgeoning basslines evoke a true sense of adventure. The score for Stranger Things, Vol. 2 does seem to develop melody as equally as dissonance, aurally exploring multiple angles of adventure, threat, and youth in general while also proving yet again that Dixon and Stein are truly masters of their craft. ~ Rob Wacey
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