Review: Health’s Max Payne 3 soundtrack

Health

Health: Max Payne 3: The Official Soundtrack

Health: Max Payne 3: The Official Soundtrack (Rockstar Games, 5/22/12)

“Tears”

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Ever adept at pulling beauty from the squall of its savage synth-rock attack, Los Angeles quartet Health makes for a fitting choice to score a video game. Conversely, the game Max Payne 3 contains enough violence, visual brilliance, and plot development to draw from different aspects of Health’s multifaceted sound.

Longtime followers of the band may be surprised at the even-tempered tone of this music, particularly given the graphic nature of the game, but the band’s new-found restraint pays huge dividends. Health could have taken the easy way out and made ejaculatory noise to go along with game’s blood-splattering imagery. Instead, the group has served up a moody, evocative work just as suited to pensive anime or science fiction as to the subject at hand.

Kudos to the game developers at Rockstar Games, who apparently must have believed that juxtaposition would add to the power of Max Payne 3’s impact. But the ultimate credit goes to Health for succeeding in making a soundtrack that works just as well if not better on its own. Where so much in the world of gaming and music — particularly noise music — is tailored to saturate our minds with information, Health’s expansive work allows the listener to fill in the blanks. Ultimately, the best visuals to go with this music are the ones it inspires in your imagination.