Life Is Strange: The Music
The Power Of Music
With the recent release of Before The Storm, I felt is prevalent to go back to Life is Strange and think about what truly encompassed the feeling of the game, music. Music, for a lot of people, is the heart and soul of their life, having it implemented so thoughtfully in Life is Strange helped drive the narrative and the emotion of each scene. Even after the game, listening to individual pieces brings back the particular moment in the game and gets your mind whirring. It is the cherry on top of a fantastic art style, intriguing and diverse characters, combined with heart wrenching scenarios. So I have collected some of my favourite pieces of music from the first series to commentate Before The Storm. They are in order in which they appear first within the series.
Golden Hour by Jonathan Morali
This is a piece of instrumental music, predominantly using piano and guitar, that cycles round at the menu screen before starting the game. It is a beautiful uplifting piece and creates a vivid picture within your minds eye. It wonderfully fits with the tone of the game while also capturing the essence of photography. Considering that the golden hour is referred to by photographers as being the hour in which the sun is setting or rising, reminds you of Max's character and her passion for photography that becomes an integral part to the mechanics of the game and the overarching story. It creates a world in which everything is in the golden hour state, where every tiny object in your mind is beautifully illuminated.
Obstacles by Syd Matters
Obstacles appears at the end of episode one (Chrysalis) but also occurs within the 'Sacrifice Arcadia Bay' ending as well, so conveys a dual meaning when taking both of these into account. Firstly when considering it purely in the context of the first episode, the essence of the song appears to capture Max's whirlwind journey of discovering her power and meeting Chloe again for the first time in years. This is most prevalent when considering the line 'we've been migratory animals living under changing weather,' as it could allude to the journeys both Max and Chloe have taken in their lives. In a more direct sense it relates to Max's move from Arcadia Bay, but may relate more to Chloe's experience, especially when considering her fathers death. Once Chloe's father died she was 'living under the changing weather' of what that meant in her families life and how it formed the person she became. It becomes even more prominent when taking it in the context of the 'Sacrifice Arcadia Bay' ending, hinting at the horrendous experiences Chloe and Max have been through together as things have progressed but that they have always been through it together. Furthermore as the song lifts towards the end you get a deeper sense of urgency and unity to Max and Chloe's relationship.
Mt.Washington by Local Natives
To me, this is the most beautiful song in the entire repertoire for the Life Is Strange soundtrack. Perhaps it is because it is used at one of the most emotional peaks of the story, at the end of episode two (Out of Time) just after Kate's (attempted) suicide. It appears to be a very mournful piece and imbues a sense of reflection within the listener. It is exceedingly powerful and well placed by the developers within the story, as you run through a montage of images starting with Max and Warren looking at the sunset. No matter what happened within your play-through, whether Kate succeeded in her suicide or not, it pacts a powerful emotional punch. Furthermore as the episode dealt with a lot of serious issues such as abuse, bullying and negligence, the line 'we could wash the dirt off our hands now,' powerfully relates to Kate's plight and the varying characters inability to listen to her.
Lua by Bright Eyes
Lua is a wonderful piece of music and it is mainly within the lyrics that you find the power within this piece. It is placed right between the events of Kate's (attempted) suicide and the events of the alternate timeline. It plays in the mid way point of episode three (Chaos Theory) after waking up in Chloe's bedroom. It is wonderful timing for the piece as you have time to sit and reflect on the music, if you wish, without the story washing over the power of the lyrics. There is an inherent sense of sadness, (possibly a depressed outlook) loneliness and confusion. It also weaves all of these themes together to drive you from one powerful emotion to the next. Considering that the lines 'when everything is lonely I can be my own best friend... have my own conversations,' and 'the mask I polish in the evening by the morning looks like shit,' combine the sense of loneliness with the facade the narrator uses to cover up their feelings. It is the sense that there is a continuing up and down, that there is no escape from the rollercoaster of depression. In addition it is also predicted that the song foreshadows Chloe's overdose on morphine in episode four (Dark Room) as the song quotes 'and if you promise to stay conscious I'll try and do the same. Well we might die from medication but we sure killed all the pain'. The last line in particular doesn't just relate to the physical aspect of Chloe's condition but the mental pain she wishes to kill too. The toll she believes she exacts on her parents, both financially and mentally. It also links back in with depression as there is a constant need to find some cure for the unending pain caused by it.
Kids Will Be Skeletons
Kids Will Be Skeletons by Mogwai
Another fantastic instrumental piece that just continually builds as the song progresses while adding complexity of sound as it move forward. This composition is placed at the end of episode three (Chaos Theory) when Max's discovers the changes that have happened within this alternate timeline. This is when it is revealed that Chloe has become disabled and is so plagued by pain she has to be on constant medication. The build in the song matches the mood perfectly as it builds to the reveal of Chloe's condition and once playing the episode it remains reminiscent of that event.
The powerful combination of carefully selected pieces of music, to me, drove the story of Life Is Strange forward to incredible heights and adds another level of immersion. It enchants you and captures the feeling of each scene with insane levels of precision. It is heartfelt, gritty and wholesome, it can throw you from one emotion to the other with a seamless transition. I can't wait to see what Before The Storm has to offer and what music I can discover from the new instalment.
© 2017 Jack Moore