Les Salauds (The Bastards) is the Tindersticks' seventh soundtrack for a Claire Denis film. Its cues are more economical, minimal, and sinister to suit the tense, dark, foreboding nature of the film -- which has been the subject of notable controversy at virtually every festival where it has screened. For Tindersticks fans, the minimal approach to the 40-plus-minute score marks a partial shift in direction. First, unlike earlier releases, it sounds like a proper soundtrack more than it does one of the band's own albums. Next, there are some notable exceptions to the work they've done for Denis previously. The cover of Hot Chocolate's "Put Your Love in Me" (the track that opens and closes the score) uses a shadow-heavy approach illustrated by a brittle wave of motorik synths; the effect is chilling, unsettling. The cues "Low Life," "Night Time Woods," and "Night Drive" are also drenched in taut, insistent, pulsing -- and perhaps paranoia-inducing -- electronics. Other cues, such as "Night Time Cigarettes," "Marco," "Factory/Day Drive," and "Love on the Stairs," are more restrained, and perhaps cautiously graceful, when contrasted with the inherent blackness of those aforementioned tracks. All summed, Les Salauds is an intensely moody, somber, and at times even sinister score. Yet for its starkness, brutality, and moodiness, it is nonetheless strikingly beautiful.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek