In conjunction with the premiere of Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone’s latest collaboration, Milan Records will release the “Poor Things” soundtrack by multi-instrumentalist, producer, and composer Jerskin Fendrix on December 8. But beginning November 15, you can get a taste of the film’s gnarled steampunk setting by listening to two singles off the album: “Bella” and “Lisbon.” Listen to an exclusive preview of the latter below.
“Poor Things” is both Fendrix’s first film score and Lanthimos’ first collaboration with a dedicated composer for a feature film. “I just listened to Jerskin’s first album and I can’t even describe what it is,” Lanthimos said in a statement. “But there was something in it that just felt so right about it.”
Fendrix’s music wasn’t necessarily an intuitive choice for a film score, and that’s part of what excited Lanthimos. Fendrix’s solo work mixes the flourishes of classical piano with cutting, observational lyrics and rhythms that zag instead of zig. But there is a humor, surprise, irreverence, and sudden, gaping depth to Fendrix’s sound that was a perfect fit for Stone’s protagonist, Bella Baxter, who goes on a deeply unconventional journey over the course of “Poor Things.”
Fendrix was inspired not just by Bella but by all the characters. Though dressed by costume designer Holly Woddington in frocks and vests out of a Mary Shelley nightmare, “If there’s some kind of injustice or [the characters are] upset about something it comes out in this extremely endearing and kind of cute and embarrassing way. And [so] my toolbox, musically, is talking about feelings in a very embarrassingly kind of open way,” Fendrix said in a statement. “There was also the cosmetic side of making sure that [the score] could keep up with how extraordinarily imaginative all of the production and the costume designs were. But, at the core of it, I think it really had to be very emotionally vulnerable and non-verbal.”
To find this emotional vulnerability, Fendrix used a battery of woodwinds and synthesized, breathy vocal samples. The combination gives the sense of someone who, like Bella at the beginning of the film, sees and feels so much without being able to fully articulate it. Fendrix then layers and develops the textures of the score over the course of Bella’s adventures out in the world. “In ‘Lisbon,’ Bella is free for the first time, just beginning to open her eyes to the world. She is still naive and vulnerable, but something new is emerging,” Fendrix said.
That something new is still just as wild as Bella — and as Fendrix’s and Lanthimos’s musical sensibilities. Fendrix embraces mallets and strings to craft a sense of chaos and complexity to Bella wandering an unfamiliar city, rhythmically taking the same halting steps that she does. The score is a window into Bella’s mind — and in “Poor Things,” minds are most useful for both experimental and non-experimental purposes.
Searchlight Pictures will release Poor Things theatrically on Friday, December 8.