ALBUM REVIEW: Oliver Coates – Aftersun

Written by on March 17, 2023

Aftersun was one of, if not, my favorite films of last year. It is a painfully beautiful piece dealing with the melancholy of childhood and the regret of nostalgia. A big part of the impact of the movie was its soundtrack. Being set in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, the film was able to use a lot of contemporary music to great effect. Especially as someone growing up in England not long after the film was set, I was able to relate to a lot of the needle drops in ways the American friend I took to the cinema did not. The film recognized the sadness and artificiality behind some of the big pop songs of the time, while still maintaining a love for them. Tubthumping, the Macerena, Aqua, Steps and All Saints all make appearances. Tender by Blur is also used in one of the most memorable scenes. Tender may have been the most powerful needle drop if it hadn’t been for the incredibly moving, and still tear jerking as I write about it, Under Pressure sequence. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it but you will be reduced to a puddle for the rest of your life, anytime you think about it or hear that song. It also served to turn what was once an overplayed, awful-sounding hit into a rightful masterpiece in my mind.

Another large part of the Aftersun experience is the stripped-back, emotional score. It’s easy to slip into this film as there is almost no conflict and there is barely a story. Oliver Coates’ helps with this low key vibe. The orchestra drones and pulsates in and out. The ambience lets us through the door and allows us to spend time with these characters. If the score was more intense, we would not be able to relate or connect with what is being presented to us. 

All in all, the score is quiet and relaxed, with pangs of sadness, just like the film as a whole. When the film needs to be intense and powerful, for example, the Under Pressure scene, the score moves with it and reduces anyone watching it to a puddle of emotions.






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