Based on the soundtrack alone, it could be guessed that To Have and to Hold is one of the saddest movies ever made, as this string-drenched score hardly ceases in its wailing, weeping, and lamenting. The film actually deals with the nasty side of love and obsession, set against the steamy, sultry backdrop of the jungles of Papua, New Guinea. The crack compositional team has much experience turning the overly dramatic and dangerously lush into a powerful listening experience -- Cave, Bargeld, and Harvey all work together in Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. So the funereal nature of the music is tempered with strong, exceedingly catchy melodies; well-placed time signature changes; and snatches of subdued, hypnotic noise and glissandos. Also, the use of traditional instruments and native singers enhances the richness and scope of the score, marrying it to the verdant setting. A key move the composers make is to pen one of the main themes as a lovely and dreamy waltz, successfully yet subtly countering the more somber moments by adding a touch of light to the proceedings. And the arrangements are varied in intriguing ways; for instance, a haunting and pretty, melodic line is first sung by a chorus ("The Jungle of Love"), before returning in stripped-down form as a phrase for church bells ("Snow Vision"). Surprises await the listener at the end of the disc, first with Scott Walker's wonderfully over-the-top interpretation of Dylan's "I Threw It All Away," then with the jarring (at least in context) dub number "Gangster Bone."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Will Lerner