Earlier this week, I left work a bit early, caught a bus, and headed to the grocery store to grab some diapers and milk. It was typical, mundane evening, something I’d experienced many times before. But it didn’t feel that mundane — my normal life seemed a lot more stylish while listening to the Persona 5 soundtrack.
Persona 5 is a sprawling, all-consuming role-playing game that has a particular and distinct focus on the day-to-day moments of young adult life. The game itself is divided into sequential days, and you’ll spend as much time simulating the life of a typical teenager as you will fighting off demons in an alternate psychic dimension. You might start off a day reading a novel on the train to school before spending the evening deciding whether to study for exams or practice your coffee making skills. It may sound boring, but the mundanity is alleviated by just how effortlessly sleek and polished Persona 5 is. This extends to virtually every aspect of the experience, from the model-like characters to the shockingly beautiful in-game menus. But perhaps the most important of all is the music.
The Persona 5 soundtrack starts with a lot of energy — the lead song is even called “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There.” The 110-song album alternates between genres, though Persona 5’s soundscape is best-described as jazzy, whether it’s upbeat tracks like the kinetic “Life Will Change,” or the more subdued instrumentals of “Beneath the Mask.” Because Persona 5 is such a massive game — a single play through can easily span 100 hours — these songs have become ingrained in my memory. The throaty vocals of Japanese soul singer Lyn Inaizumi, who features on the album’s most memorable songs, are comforting at this point.
If you’ve played a lot of the game, these songs will bring you back to specific moments, from long chats over coffee on a rainy night to getting lost in the labyrinth that is the Shibuya subway station. What’s most surprising to me, though, is how well they work divorced from the game itself. “Beneath the Mask” puts me into a contemplative state, and that’s true whether I’m staring idly out of a train window in real life or if I’m virtually idling around a cafe late at night in the game. For the past few days the Persona 5 soundtrack has also been the soundtrack of my life. It’s light enough that it fits in the background of most situations — while working or travelling, for instance — but there are still moments where I need to stop and soak in a song or lyric. And after 100 hours spent in the game I’m somehow not sick of these songs at all.
Of the 100-plus songs on the album, not all of them work well for idle listening. The quick little chiptune tracks composed for the fictional in-game arcade machines, for instance, aren’t especially great on their own. But the vast majority of the songs are, especially if you’ve already spent hours in this virtual world. Persona 5 offers a unique kind of power fantasy, one where you can become an impossibly cool superhero ridding the world of evil, while still managing a somewhat normal existence. With the Persona 5 soundtrack in the background, you can let some of that cool bleed over into your real life.
Ther Persona 5 soundtrack isn’t available to stream yet, but you can grab a copy on iTunes now.