London based indie dreamy pop band Daughter, fronted by Elana Tonra, burst on the scene with their explosive debut If You Leave in 2013 with the infectious song “Youth”, which graced many a playlist. Tonra has the lungs that reach a range quite often compared to Florence Henderson or Hannah Reid from London Grammar. While many emerging bands have tried to imitate the indie heros they would love to be compared to, thought without much power to sustain, Daughter seems to pull out over the fray. It only seemed like the next plausible step to do a soundtrack for a video game, as all bands say to themselves. And if they don’t, they should, because how cool is it to have your song in a video game?
Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is an multi-part series video game. It’s a follow up to the original Life Is Strange, which was published by the same people that did Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy. The first edition was widely popular and was met with a highly interested and engaged audience, mostly made up of hipsters, due to themes of love, loss, grief, with a slice of nostalgia, and emphasis on the current culture. To play this game was like playing through a day of Coachella, complete with indie bands like Alt-J, Local Natives, Jose Gonzalez, Amanda Palmer, Bright Eyes, and to bring this full circle, Daughter.
Music Before The Storm is a complete soundtrack written and composed by Daughter. The soundtrack takes a deeper, darker turn than their previous efforts. For a band that has only two releases behind them, being asked to score for a video game comes with it a new level of maturity that reveals itself in the collection of 13 original songs that weave perfectly between beauty and heartbreak. “Burn It Down”, the first single released, has an atmosphere of a dark, sad, almost regretful playground, as if no one told us when we were young how it was going to be. I can’t help going back to a recent episode of This is Us. One of the characters, in a flashback, was having his first baby and was panicking, a store employee of where he was shopping gave him this advice:“When babies are born, they come with the answers.” The song reminds me that as we get older, we don’t always have the answers and we need guidance once we are away from the safety of our crib. This pairing of the ethereal and the visceral makes the soundtrack noteworthy and interesting, considering the context of the video game itself.
The majority of the album itself lacks lyrics, but in the songs the lyrics do take front stage and seem to bring a sense of understanding, a need to get clear, to take stock and accountability. In “I Can’t Live Here Anymore,” you hear a beautiful flow of piano which seems in the distance embedded with the sophistication of guitarist Igor Haefelis’ boastful riffs. Songs such as “Glass” and “Witches” are heavily infused with percussions by drummer Remi Aguilella, which give haste and a sense of identity to the songs.
In its entirety, Music Before The Storm is a worthy freshman, offering insight into the depths and many layers of what the lead character is dealing with throughout the game. It screams to all of our inner confused 16 year old selves and the complexity and vastness of what lay ahead. Daughter has done a great job crafting music that is not only captivating, but aesthetically appealing.
Allison got her big break in the music industry by writing for MTV/Vh1 where she interviewed everyone from Prince, to Elton John, Lenny Kravitz, Blink 182 and many more. From there she started Hyperactive Music Magazine that went national. Shaw then produced several big festivals and went to work for Rachael Ray’s Entertainment company. Shaw started Manic Monkee MGMT which manages bands and does brand strategy for all kinds of brands in music/tech/consumer products and aligns brands with events. The company also produces events. Shaw is also on the Board Of Directors for non-profit music charity Sweet Relief. Follow her on Twitter at @manicmonkee.