‘Stranger Things 2’ Soundtrack Is Bigger and Scarier

How are you preparing for the second season of Stranger Things, which debuts on Netflix on Friday, Oct. 27? Perhaps you’re re-marathoning season 1. Maybe you’re eating Eggo waffles. Or, if you’re like me, you’re listening to the score for Season 2 by noted synth composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein.

If you’re still confused a bit, here’s where we’re at, generally: In season 2, it’s 1984 and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana, are still reeling from the horrors of the Demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins National Laboratory. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.

For the music of Stranger Things 2, composers Dixon and Stein have said they wanted to revisit the original themes where necessary while introducing new ideas, which I’m guessing matches quite nicely the Duffer Brothers’ approach to continuing the story we first experienced in July 2016. It’s in your humble servant’s estimation that Dixon and Stein have achieved their goal exponentially. This round is bigger, scarier, and better than the first.

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The composers’ particular style of synthesis is still on display. For the most tender moments, minimal arrangements are intertwined in each other, arps or not, to convey the inherent spirit of the non-frightening moments of the story. You hear this on cues like “On the Bus,” “Presumptuous,” and “Home.” Although this time the color of the synths feels more complex and the sweet, comforting melodies resonate a heartier timbre.

On the darker cues where it seems the stakes are far higher — suspense is at a 10 and existential threats at 11 — Dixon and Stein tap much further into the sound of their band SURVIVE than they did for the first season’s music.

On “Soldiers,” which knowing this show’s narrative the title can’t point to good things, the duo bring on the dissonant synths and heavily gated and reverbed drums. Each expression is a mechanistic onslaught steeped in foreboding. Things are likely not going well for our favorite cast of ’80s kids. This cue wouldn’t have been out of place on SURVIVE’s recent album, RR7349.

Although “Descent into the Rift” lacks the industrial manifestations, it does have singular, monstrous monosynths. They pulsate in and out in horrifying stabs, with disembodied, synthetic voices and ferocious harmonies building on the fear. The cue is only a minute-and-half, but the fright will outlast that tenfold.

Texas natives Dixon and Stein could have easily just rested on their laurels with this season. After all, their work for season 1 garnered a handful of big awards: a Primetime Emmy Award win for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music, two Grammy nominations for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, an ASCAP Composers’ Choice Award nomination for TV Composer(s) of the Year, and a World Soundtrack Award nomination for TV Composer(s) of the Year.

But they didn’t churn out the same ol’ arps, which people might still have loved. Instead, they’ve crafted something new and enjoyable that functions well on its own and likely supports the story of Stranger Things as well or better than the first go-around to the Upside Down.

Lakeshore Records/Invada Records released the soundtrack digitally on Oct. 20. You can stream it on Apple Music and Spotify (or just buy it on iTunes). It’s 34 tracks of synth-score bliss. (Physical versions are coming soon at some point — Invada has hinted at CD, vinyl, AND cassette releases.)


Awesome Bonus Material

The Apple-exclusive deluxe version of the Stranger Things 2 soundtrack has a collection of bonus tracks crafted to function, basically, as a Halloween soundtrack. No more cheesy Halloween party cuts for your soirée. Although, admittedly, these cues are pretty damn frightening at times, so perhaps they’d be better for a haunted house.

Overall, though, if you and your guests are into chunky synth arps, scary white noise, ethereal synth melodies, spine-tingling percussive slams, and generally can’t get enough of all things Stranger Things, then you are all going to love this bonus “disc.” (My suggestion would be to pair it with the haunting synth scores of OGRE and Dallas Campbell and Antoni Maiovvi, among others.)


Full Tracklist for Stranger Things 2 (A Netflix Original Series Soundtrack) [Deluxe]

01. Walkin In Hawkins

02. Home

03. Eulogy

04. On The Bus

05. Presumptuous

06. Eight Fifteen

07. The First Lie

08. Scars

09. I Can Save Them

10. Descent Into The Rift

11. Chicago

12. Looking For A Way Out

13. Birth / Rescue

14. In The Woods

15. Digging

16. Symptoms

17. Eggo In The Snow

18. Soldiers

19. Choices

20. Never Tell

21. She Wants Me To Find Her

22. Shouldn’t Have Lied

23. It’s A Trap

24. Crib

25. The Return

26. Escape

27. We Go Out Tonight

28. Connect The Dots

29. The Hub

30. On Edge

31. What Else Did You See?

32. Run

33. Levitation

34. To Be Continued

~BONUS TRACKS/DISC DELUXE EDITION~

01. Turn On The Lights

02. Sick Of Cow

03. Power Maintenance

04. Roars From The Lab

05. Mercy

06. Shadow In The Tunnel

07. A Familiar Shape

08. Tree Slime

09. Do You Accept The Risk?

10. Entering The Cellar

11. The Spy

12. Controlled Contamination

13. Turn Right & Run

14. They Hurt Me

15. Possessed

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