We at Shindig! ❤️ KILLING EVE, reader. Arriving out of nowhere last year, the stylish and none-more-black saga won our hearts with the twisted cat and mouse relationship between British Intelligence operative Eve and flamboyant assassin Villanelle. Back with a bang for a second series, it seems like as good a time as any to offer up our pick of cuts from its stunning, immersive soundtrack. Underpinned by a raft of noirish invention from David Holmes-led collective Unloved, the soundtrack to Eve and Villanelle’s curious bond takes in French pop, garage-rock and all manner of other goodness. MARTIN RUDDOCK compiles a selection of killer cuts (with selections from later episodes of series two left spoiler-free for those of you who haven’t binged the whole thing yet.)
‘Roller Girl’ (1967)
Actress-singer Anna Karina’s Gainsbourg-aided 1967 tune soundtracked Villanelle’s entrance to her absurdly chic Paris apartment in the first episode of KE. It’s a belter, a three chord bubblegum-garage romp with a clanging Spector-y production. ‘Roller Girl’ almost slips its moorings and takes off into the stratosphere at around 1:30 when Gainsbourg pushes up the echo on the guitar solo but Anna’s droll vocal keeps it firmly grounded – sounding both mischievous and like she’d rather be absolutely anywhere else.
‘When a Woman Is Around’ (2016)
“At the moment you could say I’m presently optimistic/Fuck the travails of the devil”shrugs Jade Vincent on the first of three selections from cinematic collective Unloved. Not originally composed with Killing Eve in mind, ‘When A Woman Is Around’ found itself woven into its fabric and used alongside numerous other tracks as a recurring theme. Of them all, it’s arguably the biggest tune – a sort of evil Shangri-Las, down to the spoken verses. The huge chorus is an explosion of angelic harmonies. Nihilistic, mangled girl group pop at its blackhearted best.
One of the more familiar tunes on offer, the sexy, insistent groove of Bardot’s classic ‘Contact’ needs little introduction. Mostly chanted rather than sung, Brigitte sells it with smouldering economy and attitude over a groovy backing track that sounds like a bunch of funky clocks going off at once. Seminal stuff, its inclusion in the second episode of KE helped cement its impeccably cool soundtrack credentials.
‘Girl in the Room’ (2016)
A ghostly piece of euro chamber pop from Horrors man Faris Badwan’s side project, ‘Girl In The Room’ is both gorgeous and ominous. Featuring stirring strings and an ethereal lead vocal from Rachel Zeffira, it’s a perfect compliment to Villanelle’s Berlin canal walk.
‘We Gave Up Too Soon’ (2017)
A staggeringly authentic piece of new-old soul with its snake pit drums and pleading vocal featured in series one. Surprisingly upbeat for KE, but it’s a toe-tapper.
‘Modern Kosmology’ (2017)
A technicolour space-waltz from eclectic psych-folk genius Ms. Weaver ‘Modern Kosmology’ features a pristine vocal sat atop a Broadcast-y wall of sound with a bubbling undercurrent of radiophonic noise. Mysterious, beguiling and with just a hint of obsession, it’s effortless ear candy.
‘Dangerous Charms’ (1985)
We punched the air when girl garage legends The Delmonas’ 1985 signature tune was featured in series two. Clocking in at just over two minutes, it’s irresistibly poppy and energetic. If you don’t have The Delmonas in your life already, reader – please correct this situation.
The Poppy Family
‘Where Evil Grows’ (1971)
Legends of soft-pop The Poppy Family aren’t an obvious fit for Killing Eve. However this 1971 tune’s chocolate box arrangement works a treat. For the uninitiated, it soundtracks the priceless “Can I take a photo of you for my Instagram?”/“NO!” Amsterdam canalside exchange in series two.
‘Evil Woman’ (1968)
This noisy, primitive 1968 Troggs single featured in the penultimate episode of series one. A malign, oddly slinky groove – it’s a fine showcase for Reg Presley’s unique West Country growl and some particularly unhinged fuzz guitar shrieks from Chris Britton. Unfortunately for reasons best known to science and nature the original isn’t currently available, but a spirited BBC Session version is on the band’s Live On Air ’66-68collection.
‘We Are Unloved’ (2016)
Another recurring theme courtesy of Unloved, ‘We Are Unloved’ is both tense and dense. Combining amongst other things zither, mellotron, crashing John Bonham drums and what sounds like a choir practicing in hell in its thick sonic soup – it’s one of the most memorably unsettling things on KE’s soundtrack. It’s impossible to listen to without thinking of terrible, terrible things.
‘I’m Gonna Haunt You’ (2004)
A perfect slice of retro-French pop from Shindig! friend Fabienne. ‘I’m Gonna Haunt You’ accompanies Villanelle’s return to the UK in series two and is both sultry and playful with its spy guitars, jungle drums and breathy vocals. It’s also probably now very difficult to separate from mental images of a young woman committing terrible acts of violence and emotional terror.
Pretty, but disconcerting – the downright creepy ‘Sombre’ perhaps sums up the strange bond between Eve and Villanelle the best. A downbeat minor key piece with an angelic, spooky scat vocal (all together now, “La la la LA la la la.”) it’s become Villanelle’s unofficial theme and wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie.