Sayonara Wild Hearts’ OST Is Basically Chvrches From A Parallel Vniverse

Sayonara Wild Hearts’ OST Is Basically Chvrches From A Parallel Vniverse

Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool sounds they make. Today, let’s shine a dreamy neon purple light on one of the most confident video game soundtracks in recent years: Sayonara Wild Hearts, the arcade rhythm game that developer Simogo even describes as a “pop album video game.”

Chvrches, the synth-pop band that produced a song for Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, famously “misspells” their name for a reason. A ton of people the world over type “churches” (or “church”) into Google. To stand apart, the Glasgow-based musicians opted for a v rather than a u, a decision lead singer Lauren Mayberry said “seemed like a good idea at the time.” In the 21st century, when musicians across the globe jostle for limited attention both on-stage and on Soundcloud, it’s more savvy than anything. But imagine, for a second, a Chvrches unshackled from such pressures of capitalism and fame. Picture what aural delights you’d stumble upon by listening in on one of the band’s jam sessions during a post-tour lull.

Well, that music exists. It’s called the Sayonara Wild Hearts OST (playlist / longplay / VGMdb), and I can’t stop playing it. Seriously, just listen to this opening number and tell me it doesn’t sound like a Chvrches b-side?

Simogo / Daniel Olsén (YouTube)

Composed by Daniel Olsén and Jonathan Eng, the soundtrack, from top to bottom, sounds like a Chvrches album that was lost to time (or bad Google results). “Begin Again,” which features vocals by Linnea Olsson — who sings on nine other tracks in the game — kicks off with that muffled equaliser you often hear in Chvrches’ oeuvre. Then it’s right into ethereal bubble-pop vocals and some cavernous new-wave drums:

Simogo / Daniel Olsén (YouTube)

The other songs that feature Olsson’s hypnotic vocals are equally tremendous. “Dead of Night” is all thrust: vocal notes held long over an unstoppable pulsing beat, only pausing for anthemic choruses. “Inside,” too, except it throws in a glittery synth riff throughout. “Wild Hearts Never Die” taps the brakes a bit with a slower beat and some deliciously compressed vocals — I’m a huge sucker for compressed vocal tracks — yet remains a rousing song nonetheless. One of the album’s strongest tracks, though, is nothing like these. In “A Place I Don’t Know,” the power-synths and electronic drums are stripped away in favour of an unplugged six-string and some minimalistic singing on Olsson’s part (reminiscent of Chvrches’ acoustic version of “Get Out”):

Simogo / Daniel Olsén (YouTube)

Yes, the Sayonara Wild Hearts soundtrack can do it all. It sings even without vocals. Just listen to “Parallel Universes,” a mesmerising downtempo dub that merits hitting the repeat button ad infinitum:

Simogo / Daniel Olsén (YouTube)

Without question, “Parallel Universes” is the album’s high-water mark for me — though I’ll fully admit my praise could be a result of how it shows up in the game. Sayonara Wild Hearts is, to put it in reductive terms, a rhythm game. You persistently move forward on neon-lit pathways, collecting fluorescent gizmos and avoiding deadly obstacles, all to the beat of the music. Your goal is to collect the most good stuff while avoiding all the bad stuff — y’know, in the name of high scores.

In the “Parallel Universes” level (1:48 in the video below), you drive down a highway — complete with jump ramps and razor-sharp exhaust fans — to chase two twins wearing suspenders. (It’s a weird game.) With every downbeat, the twins snap, shifting the level’s landscape between two dimensions, so you have to keep two separate levels in your head. Midway through the level, at around 0:30 in the song, the twins start snapping to a one-two-three-rest beat, forcing you to mentally juggle three dimensions. To use a technical term, it is bonkers AF. In reviewing the game for Kotaku, Paul Tamayo agreed that, yes, “Parallel Universes” is the bee’s knees:

Sayonara Wild Hearts is among just a handful of games I’ve played in a single sitting. I liked it well enough from the get-go. Then I hit “Parallel Universes,” and voraciously consumed the rest in one synth-soaked sprint. Part of that is because Sayonara Wild Hearts is fantastic — a confident rhythm game with distinct art direction and fascinating thematic elements. But part of it is because the soundtrack, with its irresistible bubble pop bona fides, gripped me from start to finish. It’s akin to what I’ve listened to regularly for years (see: Chvrches), but not exactly the same — almost like this album was air-dropped to our plane of existence from a parallel universe.

And that’s it for today’s Morning Music. How are your wild hearts faring today? Are there any video game OSTs you’d expect to see on a power-pop band’s deep cuts? Let me know in the comments — and, while you’re at it, share some kitten pics, won’t you?


  • Godsdamned phenomenal soundtrack, and the game was absolutely 2019’s GOTY.

    Also The Bones of What You Believe is a modern masterpiece and more people need to listen to Chvrches.

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