A Fitting Soundtrack
Daughter, the neo-folk band from London who released their sophomore album in January 2016 titled Not to Disappear, got to experience a creatively challenging project with composing the score to a video game. Life is Strange is a narrative based game around a 16-year-old female protagonist. The first installment of the series came out in 2015. Now the latest, Before the Storm, is a prequel set in 3 parts. Vocalist Elena Tonra and guitarist Igor Haefeli worked all through the first half of 2017, while drummer Remi Aguilella sent his parts from his home in Portland.
The band’s modern rock edge fits well with the game’s realistic storyline about a teenage rebel. Unlike some movie scoring the band was not tracking to any pictures. They were given short briefs to be inspired by. Tonra found herself writing from the main character Chloe’s perspective but also adding in her own memories of her teenage years and heartbreak. She thought that the main theme of the soundtrack is grief because Chloe struggles with losing her dad and best friend. The choices of different instrumentation are used to highlight the varied moods Chloe faces. Piano is used to represent isolation and guitars for her rebellious side. The many-layered vocal parts represent the friendships.
This would probably be a good album to fall asleep to — not because it’s boring by any means but because the tracks feel like atmospheric rock lullabies. Relatable themes and emotions come to life with their well put-together score.
The overall highlight of this album and easily the game’s standout musical theme would have to be “Glass.” It’s a beautifully constructed song with catchy guitar lick. Gorgeous strings and layered synths fill out the arrangement. It’s like the perfect soundtrack to looking out the car window contemplatively during a long drive.
“Burn it Down” is their ode to Chloe’s angsty attitude. Some relatable teenage feelings can be found in the lyrics, “I can’t be bothered with the teachers/ Always trying to shape the way I act.” There’s a sense of urgency in the track’s gritty, electronic elements.
“Hope” is another powerful display of Daughter’s strengths. They like to start with simple sounds in the beginning that eventually crescendo into dramatic choruses, sonically full and compelling.
There’s the right mix of some dark, minor-key jams and more uplifting, peaceful songs on the album. Even though the drumming was recorded separate from the rest of the production, it fits seamlessly in every song. The drums are punchy with just the right processing.
Alternative rock influences like The Smashing Pumpkins comes to mind on “The Right Way Around” with its buzzing guitars and thunderous percussion.
Daughter truly achieved what they set out to do; their raw and emotional score would be worthy of any story told on screen.