“I just wanna die anywhere else,” sings a character during band practice in Night in the Woods. Not out loud, of course, but via in-game text and a brief respite of a rhythm game. The song they’re playing echoes the game's themes of small town discontent. A feeling that a lot of people, like myself, can relate to.
When I was a teenager, I was in a band not unlike the apathetic critters of Night in the Woods. My band was like most teenage bands—useless and hardly a band at all. We had band practice maybe a handful of times, and each time was relegated to goofing off with our respective instruments (I played bass, like the main character Mae), rather than playing something cohesive. In Night in the Woods, Mae returns to the town she grew up in after dropping out of college, only to find herself being roped back into that very pastime: band practice.
Mae, Gregg, Bea, and Angus are a lot better of a band than my old “band” (if I can really even call it that). Where I knew a fair amount of bass lines from miscellaneous emo bands and could play random songs on trombone (like the Spongebob Squarepants theme song), the band in Night in the Woods putts along at least semi-in tune, even as Mae fumbles with the bass she hasn’t played in years. If she performs well, she gets backhanded praise. If she performs bad, she’s slyly insulted, despite the fact that she literally hasn’t played her bass in years.
Regardless, the band in Night in the Woods made me think of the music I enjoyed in my youth, and the music I imagine the characters in the game passed along in mixtapes (or rather, mix cds) back when they were in high school. Even though Mae is canonically a doom metal fan (according to an eagle-eyed Reddit user), the music their band plays is really anything but that. The music, even if we can't hear the vocals, melodically reminded me of indie rock, modern-day emo, and pop-punk. (Also known as, three genres that are so broad in their sounds that it's hard to pin them down.)
And so, I decided to curate an extra-special mixtape (*coughs* Spotify playlist) that maybe, theoretically, one of the characters would slide to Mae. That is, if her computer isn't infected with adware again. Enjoy!