For small-town America, high-school football is a religion. The home team in Peter Berg's Friday Night Lights has to travel over 250 miles of sun-parched southwest highway to meet their rival team, and who better to paint those Texas skies than the Lone Star State's own Explosions in the Sky? Soundtrack producer Brian Reitzell, whose fluid work on The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation is instantly recognizable here, throws Daniel Lanois, David Torn, and Bad Company into the mix as well, resulting in a collection of music that redirects its intended genre into something altogether spiritual. Sports dramas usually rely on an infuriating blend of swelling strings and "We Will Rock You" bombast, so it's a real treat to hear the post rock quartet's guitar-driven soundscapes illuminating camera close-ups of down-to-the-wire scoreboards and off-field bonding. The wistful, string-driven "Your Hand in Mine" -- courtesy of arranger and father of Beck, David Campbell -- is as close to "traditional" as Friday Night Lights gets, but the atmospheric centerpiece owes a lot more to Brian Eno than it does John Williams. Much of the material was culled from bits and pieces of the band's two Temporary Residence releases -- the director had grown used to them in the context of the work print of the film -- then combined with all-new compositions, making FNL a must-have for fans, but it's the patient way the soundtrack unfolds, Bad Company and all, that gives it an edge over soulless, hit-driven opponents like Remember the Titans or Any Given Sunday.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger