‘Sherlock’: Series 1 soundtrack album review

Posted Filed under

The Original Television Soundtrack album for Series 1 is just the sort of thing to have on your music player of choice, whether you’ve got to go to your ‘mind palace’ or you’re just trying to remember where you put your car keys.

Listening to it you’ll find your fingers arching, your brow furrowing with thought, and, wherever you are, you’ll feel like Sherlock himself, sitting in his Baker Street chambers solving a dastardly crime.

Kudos to Arnold and Price for creating something that’s different to Hans Zimmer’s score for the big-screen Downey-er version, and yet quintessentially Sherlock Holmes. Only very occasionally do you sense Arnold’s experience on the Bond films creeping in, such as in the track ‘Security Cameras’ and ‘Final Act’.

Arnold has crafted the music for blockbusters such as Stargate and Independence Day, while Price has composed music for Children of Men and also edited the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, so you know you’re in safe hands. Perhaps a little too safe, for if there’s a criticism to be levelled at the album it’s that there’s not a great deal of diversity across the 19 tracks.

Many of the same themes and codas are repeated, especially Sherlock’s theme, and you’ll soon find them popping up again and again amid tense chords and long stretches of brooding notes. This translates into a listening experience which lacks in variety and which, tonally, suffers from an indistinctness from track to track. What’s good is very good indeed, but it often feels lost amid less memorable tracks like ‘Light-fingered’ and ‘A Man Who Can’.

Still, for fans of the series this is still well worth a listen and sure to put you in a nostalgic mood; reminding you of simpler times, when Holmes’ world was one of Chinese assassins and unfortunate old women with C4 strapped to them. The following five tracks are particularly worthy of your attention…

‘Opening Titles’

Exactly what it says it is; it’s a shame that there’s not a longer or uncut version of this as there’s plenty of space for expansion, but it’s clearly been composed to fill that 40 second title sequence. Much like the endings to both series, it’ll leave you wanting more, and that’s both a good and bad thing.

‘The Game is On’

By far the most outstanding track on the album, and one which perfectly encapsulates the frenetic genius of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes. You’ll recognise it as the music that starts playing whenever Holmes has a great idea and rushes out the door.

Snappy and innovative use of percussion gives the effect that you’re actually listening to Sherlock’s brain tick; a safe unlocking; a puzzle clicking into place.


One to put on if you’re ever running late for your bus, ‘Pursuit’ takes the basic structure of ‘The Game is On’ and makes it even more frantic, with a faster tempo, and strings and trumpets helter-skeltering up and down.

Much like in a pursuit, there’s even a musical version of a pause for breath halfway through as everything, just for a second, stops completely before re-commencing with renewed vigour. If there’s one track to put a grin on your face, it’ll be this one.

‘Number Systems’

A heady flamenco rhythm, Spanish guitar and horns give this a very ‘Costa del Sherlock’ feel far removed from 221B Baker Street, but this quickly gives way to a much less flamboyant and altogether darker arrangement of synth and strings that’ll remind you a little of Arnold’s work on Die Another Day.

‘Final Act’

Tense is the word here, as this is the music from that swimming pool showdown. A brooding atmosphere of stings and synth is suddenly punctuated by a flare of brass and percussion which then subsides into the taught strings and a heartbeat-like drum thump that leads us right to the end of the album in a dramatic crescendo.

If you really want to complete the Sherlock listening experience then we recommend you stick on the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive’ straight after this one.

Released on Monday 30th January 2012 by Silva Screen.

> Buy the Series 1 album on Amazon.

What’s your favourite piece of music from Sherlock? Let us know below…