Doctor Who’s original scores by MURRAY GOLD rank among the most brilliant and rewarding soundtracks of recent years. Time-travelling along at a release rate of annually-at-least, each album so far has been jam-packed with enthusiasm and overflowing with life, love and creativity. You could almost say they’re bigger on the inside.
Does GOLD’s new album from the show’s 7th season match the enormously high bar that has been set? Spoilers! But yes. Yes it does. Granted, with 74 tracks, adding up to well over 2 hours of music, it’s hard not to be at least a little bit impressed.
A significant portion of the fun of a Doctor Who soundtrack is picking out GOLD’s self-references to his previously established themes - of which there are many. Sometimes these reprises are thrillingly subtle, like the return of the Dalek’s theme in “Towards The Asylum” (1-5), and sometimes they are splendidly overt, like the 11th Doctor’s Theme at the end of “I Might Change My Mind” (1-37). GOLD is happy to dance from theme to theme at a rapid pace, often within the same track. This emotional whiplash can make your first listen exhausting. Furthermore this score has many styles sewn imperfectly together; dramatic jumps between disparate themes and genres. This makes it unclear what the central drive is for the album as a whole, probably to a greater extent than any previous Doctor Who score. But in subsequent listens, when you know what formerly unpredictable emotional rises and falls to expect, the journey becomes significantly more enjoyable.
There are some other downsides to having an overwhelming 74 tracks. Many tracks clock in at under a minute, which is hardly enough time to truly immerse yourself in a great piece. Notably, “Bah Bah Biker” (1-35) and “The Speeder” (2-6) are wonderfully energetic new melodies, but they have no room to breathe. Perhaps GOLD will expand upon these in future years, as has been his custom with other motifs in the past.