Dave Sardy – Zombieland: Double-Tap

4 out of 5

Label: (digital release)

Produced by: Dave Sardy (?)

Will someone get Dave Sardy a full band and convince him to write music again? I mean, he’s been very active on the scoring scene, and he’s been bringing the Barkmarket rock to those projects – awesomely non-orchestral stuff – but he tends to favor writing for scenes instead of songs, meaning we get soundtracks that are minute-long snippets of rock instead of full compositions. It’s better than no Sardy at all – some of the tracks on these soundtracks really are amazing; bizarre and funky interplay of heavy drums and bass and searing guitar – but every time a track ends, right when it gets going, it’s a reminder that we’re missing out on the full potential of the music, only getting a slice of the pie.

For Zombieland: Double-Tap, Dave has leaned fully into the stuttering pacing, dropping 45 tracks that are mostly between 30 seconds to 1:30, and that’s about when I should just give up on my dreams of a Barkmarket reunion. …Except, well, Double-Tap really, really works, and not just when the runtime extends beyond the 2-minute mark. Besides the fact that the music is wild throughout, this is also the first score I’ve heard from Sardy where he uses his own particular movie music approach of off-kilter, gnarly rock and doesn’t just kinda sorta maybe do exactly that, which sounds like more of a criticism than I mean it to be, but thus far, Dave’s scores have either sounded like someone hired the guy because he used to be in a hardcore band, or like someone who really wants to write heavy music but is trying to be strings-and-orchestra instead; Zombieland 2 comes across as a composer who’s read the movie’s tone, and delivered the music that’s right for it. While the former approach has produced some stuff I do really enjoy, the latter stands out as something that would’ve caught my ear without having to go hunting for it specifically.

And this doesn’t just mean that Sardy is working in the same vein and it just happens to be in-line with the flick: he’s pushing himself, while remaining rooted to rock – Double-Tap is stylistically all over the map, like a Tub Ring album, but has that reliable backbone of goddamn catchy riffs. And the short runtime of the tracks works in tandem with this – we have that throughline of bass and guitar, and then the pace and tone keeps morphing and shifting, loosely connected from song to song, before landing on some punctuations that are those 2 to 3 minute joints. It’s incredibly exciting. Yes, that does mean you don’t really walk away with a “theme” for the score, beyond distortion and weirdness, and it’d be pretty miraculous if all 45 songs were seamlessly stitched together – they’re not; there are still some hard stops here and there. But this turned the corner for me on Dave’s approach to movie music, and though it still makes me desperate for an actual band and release some day – see that opening statement – I’m just as excited to see if he evolves on what he’s done here.