„Hey, Steve… how about making a party game where dolls of plasticine try to throw each other from skyscrapers?” …this is probably how Boneloaf got around to develop Gang Beasts – a title so full of fun which works like this: you invite friends whom you’ll have no doubt about pushing off a speeding van, you hand each player a controller and explain the controls. After that, everyone chooses their Haribo bear’s outfit just seconds before flying off 10th floor. Laughing uncontrollably. The fun is even greater, because our speakers are going to be attacked again and again by very friendly and likeable tunes, courtesy of doseone and Bob Larder – our „special guests”.
Forty two tracks (on Bandcamp; a little less on Spotify) emanating with energy of about thirty casual nudges per minute are the result of two Americans’ collaboration: rapper/producer doseone and composer-freelancer Bob Larder. Their gang armageddon consists of masterfully programmed synthesizers and drum machines, holds an electric guitar hostage, and while storming any daring party, it sings along unidentifiable vowels. The soundtrack holds together many different styles; the lion’s share belongs to synthwave (curious choice!) and chiptune, we’ll find some rap influences – through doseone, probably – and from time to time I could hear trap music inspiration. But don’t be discouraged, those of you who grew up listening to rock and blues rock. You’ll find that too on the soundtrack.
The soundtrack’s virtues (it sounds great and really fresh) after some time lose their momentum.
Listening to the soundtrack without simultaneously playing is quite rewarding. Lively, energetic and sometimes humorous compositions battle boredom however they possibly can. While playing with friends, the experience is entirely different – the music will either be turned down or muffled by the battle-cries of everybody playing. Fortunately, the pulse of the kick and the snare drum will be able to pierce through even the loudest laughs, so even if we don’t notice catchy melodies or interesting sound design-based ideas, this pulse will perfectly play out the rhythm of the rivalry.
What irked me the most while listening to Gang Beasts was how overall repetitive it is. The soundtrack’s virtues (it sounds great and really fresh) after some time lose their momentum, because, overall, we keep hearing the same things. What breaks the monotony (style changes into for example rock or rap), however well it fits and however tasteful it is, doesn’t keep the score afloat – even with instrument changes, the structural copy-paste holds the fresh appeal of this soundtrack hostage. What doesn’t help is the fact that there aren’t that many one hundred percent original compositions, because half of them serve as variations on the other half of the music. In game, it probably won’t matter, but playing songs one after another, this stagnation is discouraging. It’s disappointing even more because there are definitely a lot of great ideas present, and if only the artists brought with them a little more finesse, the problem would be marginal. To the rescue comes the Bandcamp release – twelve more tunes seem to break the monotony a little (which irritates while listening through Spotify).
There are many pleasant and engaging melodies, but none of them dares to stand out as a recurring theme or even a phrase which we’d remember after a few days. Considering this and the previous paragraph’s flaw, listening to Gang Beasts resembles sun tanning by your grandmother’s place on a summer day – on the one hand, it’s great, on the other… it lacks something. It’s not about a cup of iced tea, nor is it about the squeaky sun bed, and it is not about the weather either. Everything on the soundtrack is there for us to have a satisfying listen; the only defect might come from the recurring monotony and the lack of themes, which we would be eager to remember.
The soundtrack by doseone and Bob Larder is like a movie on the channel we switch to (for the lack of a better thing to do).
Although the monotony I’ve mentioned is a major problem, it is the only drawback of this soundtrack. We can talk about how forgettable the Gang Beasts soundtrack is, but it would be like getting angry at a classmate we’ve barely spoken to that we can’t tell him about our family matters. Listening through the OST, I haven’t noticed any prevailing larger-than-life ambitions of the creators (and it’s a good thing!). The repetitiveness also hurts, but fortunately it does not disqualify the tracks from taking a place or two in our playlists. The soundtrack by doseone and Bob Larder is like a movie on the channel we switch to (for the lack of a better thing to do), which we turn out to really enjoy. Malcontents may complain about the protagonist’s lack of charisma or perhaps an unoriginal script, but nobody here is declaring themselves as the king of cinema.