Bully Soundtrack, Shawn Lee, 2006
Shawn Lee’s Bully soundtrack sounds like little else in the Western game music canon. Set in an English boarding school, Lee initially uses his unusual mix of classical elements, rock and acoustic instruments, and electronica to create a surprisingly potent atmosphere of tension and insecurity, depicting the school as an oppressive, dangerous environment – while still keeping a playful, almost sarcastic distance. It’s a balancing act that’s pulled off with impressive skill, but that is only one aspect of Bully‘s unique approach. Once the album moves into its middle third, Lee’s primary stylistic inspiration becomes obvious: late 70s/early 80s New Wave, with its stripped down rhythms, taut melodies and unassailable sense of cool (surely something that would appeal to high-school teens). It’s a great choice, since the genre’s punchiness and concise songs are a great, original outlet for the game’s necessary moments of action and jittery, itchy tension. At the same time, New Wave’s quirkiness also happily accommodates Lee’s cross-genre inspirations and successful attempt to build a surreal musical world all of its own.
Purchase on iTunes.