I don’t really like Florence + The Machine and I haven’t really been following FFXV’s development, so this came as a surprise. But these songs, in all honesty, are lush and beautiful in a way that I think the franchise deserves.
Since FFX, I feel like the series has been veering towards the CW in terms of maudlin. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I love YA Dystopian novels as much as anyone, it’s just that the execution is sometimes off. These songs, for me, are evidence that Square Enix are taking the right cues from the dwindling returns of that box office genre: enlisting indie darling Florence Welch’s powerhouse voice feels a lot like getting Arcade Fire to write a song for The Hunger Games.
Tonally, I hope they function the same way. They’re certainly pushing the same emotional buttons—in each of these songs Welch mixes in classic tracks from the Final Fantasy franchise. She really seems to understand what kinds of games and stories these songs will accompany. On her decision to collaborate with Square Enix, she said, “In some ways the landscape of Final Fantasy and my own internal landscape seemed to fit quite well. It’s mythical and beautiful and epic.”
I certainly agree. Combined with swelling strings, layered vocals and sheer magnitude of these songs, I get a weird tug on my heart when I listen to them. It’s manipulative to play on my nostalgia like this, but it’s done so adeptly I don’t care. There’s a fucking harp in “I Will Be,” and it’s so delicate and lovely. We can only hope that Final Fantasy XV is as loud, dense, weird and triumphant as these songs are.