The following is an analysis of the Life is Strange Soundtrack. Some songs still miss an interpretation, so feel free to work on it.

For more information on the analysis of music in Life is Strange, watch this intriguing video.[1]

Episode One - "Chrysalis" Edit

Syd Matters - To All Of You - This song plays at the beginning of the game on an indefinite loop. It romanticises the American lifestyle, and highlights the role of the "American Girl". Although the game is not terribly patriotic, it focuses heavily on the girls in the game's society, linking well with this song. The song criticizes female characterization in popular culture and media; Life is Strange contradicts this hugely, considering the multi-faceted female characters who have individual aspirations and images.[2] The song highlights that from the beginning, the game centres around the lives of the girls; fitting considering the case of Rachel Amber and the drugging of other girls at Blackwell.

Angus & Julia Stone - Santa Monica Dream - This song is about moving on after a dreadful separation. It represents Chloe and her relationship with Rachel Amber. It plays directly after Chloe and Max's talk about Rachel's disappearance. As it plays, she asks Max to leave her to think; obviously about her relationship with Rachel. The song's lyrics highlight that the two girls cannot reunite, and it also reflects on how Chloe perhaps doesn't want to know about Rachel's illicit activities behind her back.[3] From as soon as Episode 1, the game's music foreshadows information which is made available to us later.

Syd Matters - Obstacles - This song debuts during the beginning of the blizzard at the end of Episode 1 concluding Max and Chloe's reunion in that episode. It creates a very melancholic atmosphere and cleverly sets the scene for the rest of the game. It makes reference to the blizzard around Max, and the ongoing challenges she will face afterwards.[4] The song conveys the message that the worriless days of life are over and that something bigger begins to take shape. On the other hand, in contrast to the previous aspect, it expresses the will to use that time that's left in front of those challenges, the will to "live together" with Chloe right now.[5] It also makes reference to the past of Max and Chloe, and their childhood together, signifying that this time, their carefree lifetime together, has long passed[6], and that they've gone trough a lot of changes since then.[7]

Episode Two - "Out of Time" Edit

Alt-J – Something Good - Introducing Episode 2, Matador imagery spreads itself throughout this song, referencing the matador losing the fight against the bull. This is particularly interesting considering that Chloe's shirt in this episode is a bull skull.

José Gonzales – Crosses - This song is associated with the conversation Kate has with Max. The title and song make references to the Christian religion, particularly relevant to Kate and her religious beliefs. It also makes good reference to her depression due to the burden she has to bear[8], the mobbing she has to deal with[9] and her following suicide (attempt), but also the support she receives afterwards in one way or another.[10]

Mt. Washington – Local Natives - This song sets in after Max and Warren discuss the events of the day, especially Kate's suicide (attempt) and Max's inability to save her and her feelings of guilt when suddenly the eclipse occurs. It also refers to Victoria and David who appear to be clearly wrecked by Kate's suicide (attempt) in the credit scene, and possibly to the feelings of guilt of all the other people who pushed Kate to that decision.[11][12] The main purpose of the song is to highlight the mere potency of an action such as (attempted) suicide, and show that clearly, the town is assuming an apathetic attitude toward the implicated dangers attached to Kate's reason for her (attempt).

Episode Three - "Chaos Theory" Edit

Bright Eyes – Lua - The song Lua is a perfect representation of the basic humanity in Max, even though she has supernatural powers. A common theme in this game is that while Max is not qualified, by wisdom or expertise, to make any of the decisions that she does, she is the only one who is even able to. Lua discusses the unreliability of the heroic teenager, articulating that dependability cannot and should not be anticipated from her forever; Max is not perfect. One day, she will be unable to save Chloe from forthcoming doom.

Mogwai – Kids Will Be Skeletons - (Max rushes to Chloe's house after discovering herself in an alternative reality)

Episode Four - "Dark Room" Edit

Amanda Palmer & Brian Viglione – In My Mind - This song appears after Max manages to go back to the original timeline and finds herself in Chloe's room. It's about dreaming of the future and planning how it should proceed but ending up being dissatisfied with the actual outcome those plans would have, and finally being content with what's the here and now. The song refers immediately to the exact time span of 5 years Max had to pass.[13][14]

Message to Bears – Mountains - This song sets in as Max and Chloe drive to the Junkyard after discovering Rachel's portfolio in the Dark Room. The song talks about running away, which Chloe and Rachel planned to do but never had the chance.[15]

Episode Five - "Polarized" Edit

Syd Matters – Obstacles - This song appears again in the Sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending of Episode 5 where Max and Chloe leave Arcadia behind and later revisit its ruins, after it already accompanied the ending of Episode 1, which creates a frame from their first reunion to their final reunion, probably forever, and marks this scene as a new beginning.

Foals – Spanish Sahara - This song appears in the Sacrifice Chloe ending of Episode 5 after Max rewinds back in time through the Butterfly photo, and eventually finds herself on the way to Chloe's funeral. Initially, it creates a strong feeling of emptiness and that way supports the long desperate moment in the face of having to let Chloe die and then develops more and more dynamic throughout the scene. The Spanish Sahara is an imaginary desolate place that's quite nightmarish and ravaged, and so depicts the emotional emptiness Max feels after all her experience and especially the loss of Chloe. Its lyrics immediately refer to the devasting moment of realization Max finds herself in, after all the effort she put into saving everybody and all the hardships she had to go through for that purpose which now doesn't mean anything anymore.[16] The whole song conveys the process of getting over a trauma that you remember over and over[17], like that Max is confronted with after everything that she went through the last 5 days (including all the death, suffering and loss she had to experience). But the trauma doesn't go away and it multiplies from one into a bunch of furies at the end.[18] It also refers to the moment Max actually realizes Chloe's dead body in the coffin in front of her.[19] The song is also primarily about the persistence of trying to forget someone, in this case, Chloe, but it's hard, and even when it seems to succeed, there are always fragments of memory haunting inside.[20]

References Edit

  1. Credit to the Geek Remix YouTube channel, with guest Rated S for this helpful and intriguing analysis.
  2. The song refers to the girls as "plastic dollies", with "wide shiny eyes and plastic bodies".
  3. Referring to Rachel's secret relationship with Frank, the lines "you're making love now to the lady down the road/ No I don't want to know" are applicable.
  4. "Someday we will foresee obstacles, through the blizzard."
  5. "Today we will sell our uniform. Live together, live together."
  6. "We played hide and seek in waterfalls, when we were younger"
  7. "We've been migratory animals living under changing weather."
  8. "Crosses all over, heavy on your shoulders. The sirens inside you waiting to step forward. Disturbing silence darkens your sight."
  9. "People staring, they know you've been broken. Repeatedly reminded by the looks on their faces."
  10. "Don't you know that I'll be around to guide you through your weakest moments to leave them behind you. We'll cast some light and you'll be alright for now."
  11. "Face stained in the ceiling. Why does it keep saying, 'I don't have to see you right now'?"
  12. "Digging like you can't bury something that cannot die, or we could wash the dirt off of our hands now, keep it from living underground."
  13. "In my mind, in a future five years from now."
  14. "And in my mind, I imagine so many things. Things that aren't really happening. And when they put me in the ground, I'll start pounding the lid, saying I haven't finished yet."
  15. "And we could run away before the light of day. You know we always could. The mountains say, the mountains say."
  16. "Now the waves, they drag you down, carry you to broken ground."
  17. "Spanish Sahara, the place that you'd wanna leave the horror here, forget the horror here, forget the horror here, leave it all down here"
  18. "Choir of furies in your head, choir of furies in your bed"
  19. "Now I see you lying there, like a lilo losing air."
  20. "I'm the fury in your head, I'm the fury in your bed, I'm the ghost in the back of your head, 'cause I am."