Joseph Stephens Vice Principals Seasons 1 & 2 Original Soundtrack
Published Mar 08, 2019On the surface, Waxwork releasing the soundtrack to Danny McBride's Vice Principals doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The HBO series ended back in 2017, its score is composed by a relative unknown, and it's by no means a horror soundtrack — the bread and butter of Waxwork. But on record, it becomes quickly apparent why we're now getting hit up with a deluxe vinyl release, which comes as a sprawling double-LP set, no less.
Made up of 64 tracks and a whopping 85 minutes, the Vice Principals Seasons 1 & 2 Original Soundtrack is a beast, both physically and musically. While it's packaged as a seriously hefty gatefold set —complete with added inserts, some eye-popping art and even a temporary tattoo — the music within is the real draw.
Composed by Eastbound & Down soundtracker Joseph Stephens, the score for Vice Principals offers a powerful listening experience — something that was also apparent while watching the show itself. As co-creator/star Danny McBride (Vice Principal Neal Gamby) and co-star Walton Goggins (Co-Vice Principal Lee Russell) took the ambitions of becoming a head principal to new heights — and the darkest depths — the music was front and centre, with '80s synth-driven electronics hitting hard alongside scenes of arson, blackmail, revenge and even attempted murder.
Made in the lead-up to McBride's Halloween film with David Gordon Green (who also directed much of Vice Principals), it's no surprise that Stephens offered some very John Carpenter-like sounds for the show. But as the resulting soundtrack proves, Stephens has a real knack for playing with the tried-and-true Carpenter formula, delivering simple though melodically hooky synth passages that grab hold almost effortlessly. There's also a very real feeling of Risky Business-era Tangerine Dream, with "Love on a Real Train" vibes aplenty — always a good thing.
But along with all the ear-grabbing synth jams, Stephens works in a lot of extra instrumental elements. In addition to some pep rally-styled tracks made with the help of the Cary High School Drum Line, he delivers everything from spaghetti western guitar lines, kitchen-sink percussion exercises, playful Danny Elfman-like orchestral bits and a handful of stunningly beautiful solo piano pieces.
An unfortunate downside to having 64 tracks and yet only two records, however, is that most of the pieces hover around the one-minute mark. As a consequence, many of the tracks feel they are never given the proper time to fully develop, often fading away before any sort of real "song" can take shape. But with this being a hard truth with many TV series soundtracks, it's one that can be forgiven.
After all, the music of Vice Principals is indeed awesome and very much deserving of a lavish soundtrack release such as this — and that's a Gamby promise! (Waxwork Records)