Eureka Street, a TV series created by the BBC, narrates the story of two
people from Northern Ireland, trying to make their way in life through sectarian
and political polarisation. The two characters are quite opposite in nature,
Chuckie is a jolly man who hits the big time when he comes up with a business
idea, and Jack is hard and moody, always getting into trouble.
The music by Martin Phipps reflects these two strands of the story. It is
worth noticing that although the story takes place in Northern Ireland (mainly
Belfast) the composer refrained completely from using the traditional Irish
music idiom and instrumentation in favour of a more common orchestration
based on strings, electric guitars, mandolin, some brass and percussion spiced-up
The score revolves around two themes: One for Jake and the other for Chuckie.
The themes assume the identity of the characters they portray musically,
that is, Jake's theme is hard and moody but full of lust, while Chuckie's
is uplifting and carefree. As a whole, the score is an odd mixture of styles,
orchestration and motifs. From the harsh, deprived of melody, synth and electric
guitar opening combined with narration from the movie, to the joyful mandolin
theme of Chuckie, to the tango in Track 5. "Eureka Street" itself is blessed
with a light-hearted theme, blending mandolin, guitars and synth, in a way
which is reminiscent of Chuckie's theme.
The score is quite predictable. The mandolin-based theme, with some variations,
is utilised to underscore the part of the story referring to Chuckie, the
harsh synth and electric guitar themes follow Jake. To interweave those two
distinct sounds together the composer attaches a number of secondary motifs
as musical passages between those two dramatic elements, alternatively mournful
and optimistic. A wordless female voice is sparingly added to the spectrum
of instruments, providing the score with an enchanting touch.
All in all, it is an interesting score. It seems like TV scores are receiving
some attention after all, and becoming more detailed, contributing more to
the drama on screen. The score under consideration although it is not
characterised by great complexity or variation of themes, captures the tone
of the series quite well. Its themes, heavily contrasted, propagate alternating
moods of happiness and melancholy. The tracks that contain narration over
underscore are quite powerful, especially Track 18.
It makes for a nice listen, but not a memorable one.