Very, very rarely do I write reviews for music here on Amazon - it is, after all, quite the subjective subject.
But the exception here is that the score to this third installment of the Pirates line of films is absolutely stunning, and so much so that I just have to blabber about it.
(7/21/07: editing this review to add a track-by-track for those interested):
1. Hoist the Colours (7/10): Hauntingly beautiful, and pretty unique as far as Pirates score work goes. Bested by several tracks here, but unique nonetheless.
2. Singapore (6/10): Don't much like this one, personally, but it fits the film well. I will say, though, that there is one standout piece of music around ~1:50 that isn't heard anywhere else in this score, and that in itself, however short, makes it worth a listen.
3. At Wit's End (10/10): GORGEOUS. Dramatic orchestral work turns into the chime theme we first saw long ago, and that itself turns into a pretty driving couple of minutes to bring this track to a close in powerful fashion (yes, the kind that makes you skip back to listen to it over and over).
4. Multiple Jacks (5/10): A necessary track for the film, but in terms of listening, I don't particularly care for it.
5. Up is Down (8/10): Catchy, upbeat theme with a powerful conclusion; among the better tracks of the score, even if it is a little short.
6. I See Dead People in Boats (8/10): Beautiful, somehow more classical-sounding (as if in a Beethoven quartet at a couple of short places...?) piece; extremely well put together with great range of thematic material, and an ending few minutes that will send chills up your spine.
7. The Breathren Court (6/10): Meh. There is a brief choral section right in the middle of this that makes it worth a listen, but beyond that, it's not exactly a highlight.
8. Parlay (6/10): Unique in terms of instrumentation, and with a driving orchestral beat near the end that stands out, but otherwise not terribly noteworthy.
9. Calypso (6/10): Again, choral section in the middle of the piece stands out, but this and the preceding two tracks are quickly eclipsed by the following...
10. What Shall We Die For (10/10): Beautifully put together with a driving string section; this one quickly develops into a leading piece for the climax of the film. The choral work that ends this is another one of those chills-up-the-spine moments for the album, and it blends seamlessly into...
11. I Don't Think Now is the Best Time (10/10): I don't even know where to start. The beginning two minutes of this are iffy, but from around 2:55 to the end at 10:45 or so, it's stunningly beautiful. Once again, choral work around the 6:00 mark makes me wish there were more reprises of that short theme in the score, and... and... oh, the hell with it. Zimmer will be up late at night trying to top this one.
12. One Day (10/10): Another dramatic few minutes of music followed by some charmingly beautiful counterpoint. The other reviewers that mention the new theme here are correct - it's absolutely beautiful.
13. Drink Up Me Hearties (10/10): Perfect end to the film (here's to hoping for a #4...). The return to the theme seen in the middle of "Jack Sparrow" from the previous score is well-placed, as is the use of the original Pirates theme. Soaring strings lead the orchestra to an end here - how sad to say - and it's magnificently well done.
This third score is reason enough to see the film again (and again). It's a far more orchestral set of music than #2 was, and it is arguably better-written in terms of capturing a film in music. There are a few new motifs - charming, gorgeous, awe-inspiring motifs - that are heard from time to time throughout the film, and a decent amount of the thematic material from the first two films reappears here, as well.
Essentially, it is as if Zimmer took all that was right with the scores to Pirates 1 and 2, slightly improved it, added new music that rivaled the best of the previous films, and masterfully added them together. But here, somehow, the whole is most definitely greater than the sum of its parts.
Highly, highly recommended. If the music from the first two films interested you at all, you're bound to love much of this one.