It can be a little concerning when a series brings in new composers. Expectations are set, and the new guys are given the task of maintaining musical identity while leaving their own mark. That being the case, I’m glad I was able to spend some time with this OST thinking, “That’s so Persona.”
Persona has definitely carved out its own little niche in video game music. Jazzy off-beat guitars, ridiculous pop-rap, funky R&B loops, and crunchy metal riffs all come together to form some kind of alternate reality contemporary music mix-tape. In addition to satisfying a spectrum of flavors, it really does its part to help build the setting: like, this could be some of the stuff kids in Inaba and Iwatodai listened to in the late 2000’s. This is the way that Persona Q’s OST best succeeds. Many of these tracks sound like very natural extrapolations of older songs.
Another high point of this OST is the remarkable sound engineering. From bit-crushed beats to guitar wah to vocal resonance, every instrument track has been handled with the utmost care. It’s not perfect; there are times I find myself questioning a boisterous keyboard patch here or an overmixed loop there, but even then the depth of each tweak added a lot to the experience. There are lots of details embedded in the production that make these tracks a joy to listen to on subsequent plays.
Unfortunately, sound quality can only do so much for filler. Since almost all of the game music is included, there are a number of reprises and slight variations on themes that will certainly be welcome in-game, but only serve to bog down the album. There isn’t a sinful amount of it or anything, and your mileage may vary, but it’s enough for me to want to make a playlist for future listens so that I can skip some tracks.
That being said, the breadth of music here is kind of incredible. Aside from expected Persona Jams, there’s some great atmospheric pieces, half a dozen remixes of old tunes, and some extremely exciting climactic blow-outs. As a happy bonus, while Atsushi Kitajoh and Toshiki Konishi are responsible for most of the compositions, Shoji Meguro and Yuzo Koshiro both drop by with seriously show-stopping numbers. I didn’t love every track on the discs, but damn if the good ones didn’t stick with me.
Ultimately, that’s probably the best way to describe my experience with Persona Q’s music. I had some of the highest highs and lowest lows I’ve ever had with a Persona OST. While it doesn’t break any new ground, it brings a unique flair to a familiar style, producing some of the best Persona tunes to date.