Moments of catharsis on HBO's Sharp Objects, an eight-part miniseries based on Gillian Flynn's novel, are few and far between. The mystery is all about how pain lingers and recurs. In one of these rare moments, 15-year-old hellraiser Amma (Eliza Scanlen) gets her older half-sister Camille (Amy Adams) to take a cocktail of pills, including ecstasy, and starts dancing wildly to "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." The scene segues into shots of the pair roller-skating around town as the Frankie Valli classic performed by Engelbert Humperdinck melds into something stranger -- a mashup of the recurring musical themes, with appearances from the Acid and Led Zeppelin. This blend of styles is disarming -- the ebullience of the retro pop blending into something more dire as Camille's haunting memories flash through her mind.
In any of director Jean-Marc Vallée's projects, music stands out. Take, for instance, Big Little Lies, which features a six-year-old with preternatural tastes and jokes about Sade. But in Sharp Objects the soundtrack feels more psychological. The songs used here are an excavation of memories: In some cases, they are a healing salve. In others, they are precise reminders of what has been lost. Certain artists pop up as recurring themes, among them rock icons Led Zeppelin, female-fronted indie folk band Hurray for the Riff Raff, and electronic outfit the the Acid. "You have all this Led Zeppelin and then you have this release with Hurray For The Riff Raff," music supervisor Susan Jacobs says. "It's this change of energy. We're composing because we don't have a composer. [Vallée is] really literally manipulating energy." Thrillist spoke with Jacobs to dissect the sounds of the series.