Album Review: American Psycho (London Cast Recording)


“Let’s be clear, there’s nothing ironic
About our love of Manolo Blahnik”

So in a slightly odd turn of events, as Rupert Goold’s American Psycho opens for previews on Broadway, the London Cast Recording of the Almeida’s Winter 2013/14 production is finally released. That London run was well-received by me, so much so that I went back (not just to post the pics of one of its nifty ad campaigns) twice and Duncan Sheik’s music was a big part of that, very much appealing to the 80s kid in me.

Sheik’s score is bathed in a glossy sheen of electronica, predominantly made up of original songs but also featuring covers of some 80s classics – Human League, Tears for Fears, even Phil Collins in radically reharmonised version of ‘In The Air Tonight’. And it’s the ideal partner for this adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel and surprisingly, it holds up really well, even without the vivid visuals (not least of Matt Smith’s abs).

The prevalence of 80s influences in music today means that it often sounds as contemporary as it does retro. It’s not a massive stretch to imagine Brandon Flowers singing ‘Killing Time’ or ‘Not A Common Man’ and if Matt Smith doesn’t have the greatest range, his slightly flat delivery perfectly reflects the detached nature of Patrick Bateman’s absolute amorality, something of which we’re constantly reminded by the welcome inclusion of several spoken passages. 

Workout anthem ‘Hardbody’ loses none of its lascivious gaze (just listen to the glee with which the boys sing the word body), the ode to fashion ‘You Are What We Wear’ remains as sharp and tuneful as I remember, led by a wonderfully dry Susannah Fielding and Katie Brayben (I still chuckle every time I hear crème de menthe and Oscar de la Renta being rhymed) and Cassie Compton’s heartfelt contributions as the one halfway empathetic character as PA Jean sound beautiful. 

Even though I enjoyed the show, the glacial synthesised sound of Sheik’s orchestrations on record make this score much more musically enjoyable to listen to than I ever imagined it would be. The addition of a couple of bonus tracks sung by Sheik, plus ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ (which I think has been cut from the US production) just adds to the package of what is an unexpectedly successful cast recording. And now I want to see it again, if only I had a trip to Broadway coming up soon…

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