What You Need to Know:
John pretty much aced this score. How to Train Your Dragon
built up a good amount of pre-release hype regarding the soundtrack and it's nice to see that the album nearly vaulted over the high expectations that mounted for it. With Powell's track record, it was easy to conceive that he would muster up something special for this opportunity and it's nice to see that he delivered on this.
A couple of joyous themes propel the score to success. While other composers are either forced or choose to avoid distinguishable themes in their work, Powell doesn't shy away from implementing themes that make their presence felt. The first theme, which debuts in the opening track, is built with Irish overtones and a galloping good spirit. It's exciting and energetic and provides a sensational presence to build off of. As good as this is, I was more impacted by the score's secondary theme, which is picked up first in track 8 and later expanded in full with the 11th cue. This theme has more of a child-like wonder associated to it and I found it to be quite charming.
If I were to critique any aspect of this album it would be about the fullness of the instruments. When the orchestra hits its peak, the musical space becomes a bit too crowded and the music comes across rather loudly. When the scale is toned down, the melodies play far more effectively than it does when the orchestra is called to arms. While I am always on board to have a full orchestra in use, the recording could have benefited from a bit of refinement.
In all, however, this is a score that hits a sweet spot. It's the first soundtrack in many months that comes at the listener with a full force of originality. But that's John Powell for you -- energetic, original, and always worth tuning into.
Final Score: Embark on a vibrant adventure with John Powell's, How to Train Your Dragon, a highly energetic and original score that will ensure you are treated to a fabulous listening experience. 2010 is now officially underway.