Review Summary: The band that keeps on giving.
HEALTH is the gift that keeps on giving at the minute. It hasn’t even been a month since their phenomenal fourth album landed in our laps and we’re already being treated to more recorded output; a graceful bonus that comes in the form of their GTA: Online Arena War
soundtrack. Considering how well-received Max Payne 3’s OST was, it was only a matter of time before Rockstar and HEALTH joined forces again. However, I’ll admit that when compared to its predecessor, GTA: Online Arena War
lacks the same level of meticulous thought and cohesive writing. Taking into account the band were given a pretty shallow source of material to work with this time around, it’s understandable that the breathing room in the creativity department might be a little more restricting; likely to have been written to adequately do the job for the game, and not much else. And while I haven’t played the game, I’ll take a stab in saying it’s probably far more effective in gameplay than it is as a solitary experience.
Listening to it in its entirety, it comes across like a patchwork quilt than a seamless work of art. It’s basically like all the songs were thrown into a trough while the band yelled “here’s a load of instrumentals we did for GTA: Online, enjoy!”
And, hey, I’m not here to judge, in my opinion it’s an enjoyably modest compilation. The record certainly continues the band’s focus on sonic exploration (a style that could bridge future LPs, perhaps？) and exhibits a more developed version of the HEALTH/Perturbator collaboration from last year. It’s like listening to Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy
merged with a number of derivative synthwave elements. Of course, it’s a little more engaging than that: these new attributes work as a chassis that sits over HEALTH’s well-perfected and sullen melancholia, making it a more worthwhile experience than your typical synthwave record. With that said, even with the overall product being enjoyable, it’s hard to overlook the fact it’s a step down from their last soundtrack. Ultimately, “No God In Thunderdome” is a little flat, stoic and pales next to the emotional trajectory of “TEARS" – but again, maybe that falls onto the subject matter than calling it out as stagnant songwriting. Regardless, GTA: Online Arena War
is a tasty dessert that goes down pretty well after indulging on their career-defining album a few weeks ago, and will certainly please fans whichever way you look at it.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://soundcloud.com/healthnoise/sets/grand-theft-auto-online-arena