By Alyce Ruby
The British film written, directed by and starring Billie Piper - ‘Rare Beasts’, is out today along with the official soundtrack, released through Xtra Mile Recordings. Piper’s partner, Johnny Llyod composed the body of work alongside his long time writing partner, Nathan Coen - the two also worked together on Piper’s hit television series ‘I Hate Suzie’ as well as: ‘Frank of Ireland’, ‘Sex Education’, ‘Legacy of Lies’ and ‘After Life’.
‘Rare Beasts’ is a romantic drama (anti-rom-com) that tells the story of Mandy, played by Billie Piper - a career-driven single mother who finds herself in a crisis until she falls in love with a charming, but traditional character named Pete - Leo Bill. Receiving its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 2019, the motion picture has a cast including David Thewlis and Lily James.
Speaking on creating the soundtrack, Johnny Llyod said: “‘Rare Beasts’ we started about three years ago now, Billie sent us the script and we came up with several different concepts at first. It was very much driven by romance and there’s a splash of French Riviera in there...I wanted it to be diverse, it’s a very unusual record as a whole. As a collection of songs I definitely think it's the best thing that me and Nathan have done.”
Collectively, the tracks encapsulate the chaos of the film’s trailer. As it is still a romance, there are the classic acoustic, violin-led compositions that create a fairytale-esque soundscape. But, there are grittier, almost eerie sounds in the work that highlight that this truly is not the classic love story.
The OST features 12 brand new compositions created exclusively for the film, along with a solo single Johnny Llyod made during filming: ‘Next Episode Starts in 15 Seconds’, the first song listed on the soundtrack. The track is one of four with lyrics and from the trailer, it seems to fit the synopsis of the film perfectly. The laidback, acoustic led music features contrasting lyrics of being present throughout disastrous situations, but carrying on living: “the world keeps on turning, there’s always gonna be another day.”
‘Rare Beasts’ is a light; airy track you’d expect to hear in a Disney film. It lulls you into this false sense of, ‘the protagonist is definitely falling in love’ until its abrupt end into the next track – ‘Tap Dance’. This sounds to me, to be a distorted version of ‘Rare Beasts’. It’s eerie, dark and is not something you would expect to hear in a typical romance. These two tracks being listed together doesn’t seem to be a coincidence, and it’s quite the strange contrast when listening to the OST in its’ order.
‘He Loves Me’ features vocals by Hazel Baillie, who also edited the film. It’s very much the typical: violins, guitar, piano with the occasional ‘doo-wop-wop-wop’ in the backing vocals. It’s reminiscent of 60’s love songs, but it’s placement in this soundtrack appears to be satire – the ‘doo-wop’ is too obvious to be taken seriously.
‘Without You in My Life’ was released on the 10th May and is instantly recognisable. The music is very reminiscent (if not sampled) of Harry Nilsson’s 1968, ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ – from the 1969 film ‘Midnight Cowboy’, which is also cited as a point of reference, along with composer John Brion.
The last listed track, ‘Happy Out Loud’ again has a Harry Nilsson feel to the music. Its’ lyrics are quite a contrast to the other lyrical tracks: “ever said these things to yourself: I’m okay, being myself.” As the last track it’s almost parallel yet the opposite the the first – ‘Next Episode Starts in 15 Seconds’. It’s upbeat, calming and the kind of song you’d expect to hear whilst the protagonist drives off into the sunset. ****
‘Rare Beasts’ has been officially released today (21st May) in a select number of cinemas. The OST is available now to purchase and stream on all major platforms and can be listened to below.