Director Peter Berg earned well-deserved praise for (mostly) avoiding Hollywoodizing touches when adapting H.G. Bissinger's now-classic account of the 1988 season of a high-school football team situated in the heart of football-obsessed West Texas. Friday Night Lights' original music further helped subvert any hints of sports-movie cliché, creating a mood of grandeur as fragile as a three-point halftime lead. Most of it came courtesy of Explosions In The Sky, a Texas band previously known (if known at all) for a small string of moody, powerful, post-rock instrumental albums released on small labels.
Recruited by music supervisor Brian Reitzellwho previously paired Air with Sofia Coppola to inspired effect for The Virgin SuicidesExplosions In The Sky shoulders the challenge. Though Explosions loses some of the pulsating volume of its proper albums on the Friday Night Lights soundtrack, its command of atmosphere remains in place. Building slow dramas from guitars used as instruments of both jangle and drone, Explosions creates a sound as elemental as track titles like "The Sky Above, The Field Below" and "Our Last Days As Children" suggest.
Daniel Lanois and David Torn each contribute likeminded tracks, with only a Bad Company chestnut breaking the mood. Though non-traditional as score music, Friday Night Lights follows a tradition of films that use ringing guitars to evoke the expansiveness of the American West, from Ry Cooder's work for Paris, Texas to Neil Young's Dead Man score to J. Mascis' contributions to Gas Food Lodging. Sometimes, spare sounds stir emotions the way lush noise can'tother filmmakers could stand to take that lesson to heart. Maybe that band in the smoky club down the street can do the job better than Hans Zimmer.