Various Artists
Yooka-Laylee (Original Game Soundtrack)


3.0
good

Review

by PostMesmeric USER (84 Reviews)
April 8th, 2017 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Remember the good ol' days?

Yooka-Laylee burst onto the scene with something to prove. It was an announcement, a battlecry to revitalize a genre of video games that many thought had been lost to the aether. The collect-a-thon platformer was coming back, and developers Playtonic Games were steering the ship. But as anyone who grew up the N64 years knew, the collect-a-thon had a musical identity as well. It’s not so much a specific instrument or specific genre, but more a specific mood. Playtonic Games wanted to produce that same mood, so they brought on three Rare alumni to produce music for their new game. Steve Burke, David Wise, and Grant Kirkhope took on the task of giving Yooka-Laylee its soundtrack, and the end result is a tug-o-war between nostalgia and invention. For better or worse, the OST to Yooka-Laylee sticks close to its influences the whole way through.

Yooka-Laylee’s soundtrack has three composers helming the tracklist, each one having contributed music for Rare. Steve Burke (best known for his work on Kameo: Elements of Power), David Wise (best known for the Donkey Kong Country soundtrack), and Grant Kirkhope (composer for Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, and many more). Each composer gets their time to shine across the track listing, but it’s clear that Kirkhope was meant to be the forerunner. Of the 38 tracks, 21 of them are by Kirkhope, with most of them consisting of level themes and their respective variants. While Kirkhope is a notable composer in the industry, especially when it comes to Western-developed games, it’s still a bit off to see so much of the tracklist under his name.

To make matters worse, Kirkhope’s contributions are disappointingly underwhelming. He’s created some of the most memorable level themes in gaming history, but any Kirkhope fan knows that he’s known to recycle some melodies across games. Kirkhope’s tracks for Yooka-Laylee lack creativity and constantly sound like imitations of his past work. “Shipwreck Creek” has a fluttering string portion that sounds eerily similar to “Fungi Forest” from Donkey Kong 64, while most of the World themes use many of the same instrument choices as any level theme from Banjo-Kazooie. “Hivory Towers” is easily the biggest offender when it comes to redundancy, as its use of bouncy rhythms and a subdued intro are dangerously close to outright emulating “Gruntilda’s Lair” from Banjo-Kazooie. This being said, Kirkhope manages to spice things up a bit, like the superb theme to World 4, one rich with swing elements like smooth bass and jazzy percussion. The boss themes also manage to feel surprisingly fresh, especially “Frosty Fray”, which parallels its nimble instrumentation with bombastic horns. The main theme is another highlight, giving itself an identity beyond past Kirkhope scores with the titular ukulele and a timid recorder. Still, Kirkhope’s contributions to Yooka-Laylee’s soundtrack rarely branch into uncharted territory. It sounds like imitation, and coming from him, this is very disheartening.

Steve Burke’s productions fare far better. “Skiffy Skirmish” merges bombastic orchestral tracks with digital effects and soundbytes, producing a dense, chaotic spiral of sounds. In fact, the use of electronic elements invigorates many of the tracks, like the superb “Bee Bop”, which goes from minstrel strings to electronic bleeps to pounding drums over the course of a minute. “Glaciators” and “Bag the Flag” are more down-to-earth tracks, thanks to a straight-up chiptune aesthetic that hits the ear just right. Burke’s contributions don’t sound revolutionary, but they have energy. He uses the sounds in his toolkit to great effect, and while there are a few tracks that feel a bit dry and redundant, he certainly produces the greatest diversity across his part of the tracklist.

But David Wise is easily the star player on Yooka-Laylee’s soundtrack. Despite getting only eight tracks, Wise nails nearly every one. As the composer for the legendary Donkey Kong Country series, Wise channels the spirit of his past works with thunderous percussion, while also adding remarkably experimental guitar melodies. The drums in “Armed and Dangerous” pair with buzzing guitars that skirt atop the percussion. Even better is “Track Attack” with its chugging rhythms, punchy brass, and wah-wah guitar hooks; it’s easily the best track on the entire soundtrack. Wise also handles the themes for the Minecart sections, which to no one’s surprise, retain the percussive drive from his Donkey Kong Country work. They’re nimble and energized, but don’t skimp on musical complexity. Wise layers each instrument into the full track astonishingly well, making his contributions the best on the whole OST.

Yooka-Laylee’s soundtrack is whimsical and spirited, taking inspiration from all three of its composers’ past work, but it rarely takes that extra step. Kirkhope’s contributions suffer the most, as they’re weighed down by familiarity and a desire to play it safe. Burke and especially Wise command their aesthetics with more gusto, stepping outside of their comfort zones and elegantly crafting their music. And admittedly, Kirkhope’s highs like “World 4 Theme” and the main theme are impressive. Yooka-Laylee celebrates the 3D platformers of yore by channeling the same musical tone that made their soundtracks so memorable, for better or for worse. If you grew up humming bars from Banjo-Kazooie or Donkey Kong 64, Yooka-Laylee’s OST will likely trip the nostalgia wires. It might be stuck in the shadow of the game music that influenced it, but Yooka-Laylee’s soundtrack is still worth a listen.



Recent reviews by this author
A Perfect Circle Eat the ElephantMastodon Cold Dark Place
Descendents Hypercaffium SpazzinateJambinai A Hermitage
Saosin Along the ShadowSia This Is Acting
user ratings (3)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
PostMesmeric
April 8th 2017


745 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'll be honest: I expected more from Grant.

VaxXi
April 8th 2017


4402 Comments


i really, really hope this game is good

AngryLittleAlchemist
April 8th 2017


1999 Comments


Didn't Snake Pass have an original OST from the guy who did Donkey Kong Country?

Snide
April 8th 2017


7050 Comments


i really, really hope this game is good [2]
There's been a ton of controversy around it.

PostMesmeric
April 8th 2017


745 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, David Wise did Snake Pass too.

AngryLittleAlchemist
April 8th 2017


1999 Comments


Good review man!

That's really sad to hear about Grant's contributions, Banjo Kazooie has one of my favorite soundtracks ever. However, it is a bit funny to see him get the most tracks considering his most legendary soundtrack is just two or three songs with varied versions across separate levels.

David Wise seems to be the legend on top of his game. Tropical Freeze has such a great original OST and I've heard Snake Pass has a better OST overall(then again that game wasn't on a hype train, so who knows)

PostMesmeric
April 8th 2017


745 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like Grant's music a lot, but nearly every track he did here sounded like a demo of something from Banjo-Kazooie, and even if that's the point, it's still a bummer.

Snide
April 8th 2017


7050 Comments


I never really got into Banjo Kazooie but this game just looks like adorable fun.

AngryLittleAlchemist
April 8th 2017


1999 Comments


It's cool that you went into depth with each contributor too, because I didn't know that Steve Burke was on here.

It's so disappointing though ... it feels like any OST with Grant Kirkhope and David Wise on it should automatically be the best thing ever : (

FullOfSounds
April 8th 2017


15771 Comments


Expecting good things out of this

bloc
April 8th 2017


55055 Comments


GUH-HUH BREEEEEE

Digging: The Chemical Brothers - No Geography

TheWrenKing
April 8th 2017


1696 Comments


david wise is goat

Snide
April 9th 2017


7050 Comments


They literally cut JonTron out of this game recently.

SharkTooth
April 9th 2017


13970 Comments


I literally just saw this on Twitter
https://twitter.com/grantkirkhope/status/851121362273947648

What did you do PostMesmeric

bloc
April 9th 2017


55055 Comments


Lol that bitch got cut deep



SandwichBubble
April 9th 2017


9545 Comments


A-HAHAHAHA

VaxXi
April 9th 2017


4402 Comments


All the people responding to Grant are absolute idiots, as usual.

UndineParty
April 9th 2017


707 Comments


sooo sensitive lol

Asdfp277
April 9th 2017


20016 Comments


asked this to be moved to the "Soundtrack (Video Game)" page

VaxXi
April 9th 2017


4402 Comments


Grant if you're reading this I want to let you know that i love you



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy