‘Stranger Things 2’ Soundtrack Mixes Eerie 80’s Glitz With Moody Synths

The duo behind the music of Netflix’s hit sci-fi/horror series “Stranger Things” are back with the soundtrack for the highly-anticipated second season.  The themes are produced by S U R V I V E’s Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, two composers who crafted the glitzy 80’s-influenced music for the initial season. Just one week ahead of its official airing, the “Stranger Things 2” soundtrack finds the Austin natives bringing back plenty of familiar tropes, with slightly modified compositional styles. All this ahead of their upcoming show at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles on Nov. 8 where they’ll perform the soundtrack in its entirety.

“We’ve created new elements that are necessary to support the story,” they said in a joint statement, “but still want to remain true to the sound of season 1.” Dixon and Stein gained huge recognition for their original score, one that somehow managed to mix a sense of urgency with an eerie calmness. The second installment does even more to shape the world known as the Upside Down. While “It’s a Trap” might harken thoughts of Admiral Ackbar’s famous line turned internet meme from “Star Wars,” Dixon and Stein’s composition is much darker. In one of the greatest examples of the duo’s ability to confuse your sense of fight-or-flight, this cut uses atmospheric synths with industrial bangs that start harmonious but end in treacherous territory. The use of these resplendent synth sounds can be found throughout. “Eggo in the Snow,” though just over a minute long, buzzes with a sense of realization and discovery through stretched atmospheric sounds.

With over 34-tracks, plus 15 bonus tracks, most themes fall under the internationally recognized length of an actual song. Some, however, could stand alone as singles. In one of the few songs on the soundtrack that has an accompanying beat, “We Go Out Tonight” drips in 80’s glamour with a mid-tempo drum kit alongside that feels less like ‘going out’ and more like ‘let’s go out and kick some creature-ass.’ These guys do a truly remarkable job on crafting music that sets a tone. During “Walkin in Hawkins,” the lead-off track, you can easily picture Nancy and Jonathan strolling through town pretending everything is fine, all the while knowing what sinister forces hide nearby. “Descent into the Rift” utilizes loud bass synths while “In the Woods” feels like a glitzy version of Jason Voorhees’ terrifying theme from 1980. The soundtrack ends with “To Be Continued,” a slightly modified version of the now famous main theme where looped bass synths blend with swirls of moody tones.

What’s interesting about this soundtrack is not only its distinct flavor and genius composition, but also the fact that it was released before to the actual season it was made for. To listen to a soundtrack before actually seeing footage is borderline spoiling. Many fans are forgoing the soundtrack until after they watch the actual second season. Even the song titles – i.e. “The First Lie,” “Birth/Rescue,” “She Wants Me to Find Her” – may be too much information for the most verdant anti-spoilers fan. That said, the show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers, have been good about keeping things on the hush via minimalist trailers, posters, etc., so trust that what they’ve allowed to be heard on the soundtrack is simply a teaser for what’s to come on Oct. 27.

Stranger Things 2 (A Netflix Original Series Soundtrack)” is available Oct. 20 on Apple Music.