With a debut album called ‘If You Leave’ and a new LP entitled ‘Not To Disappear’, you can’t help but latch onto the feeling of detachment when it comes to Daughter. Although their new album references not wanting to vanish, given the record’s stark arrangements and bleak wordplay; creeping off into the shadows would appear to provide a viable way out from their desolate world. There’s something undeniably raw and confessional about to ‘Not To Disappear’. This can be heard in Elena Tonra’s plaintive vocals that deliver lyrics touching on the subjects of dementia and torrid relationships, whilst carrying an overall theme of anxiety and the struggle to find a content place to call home. While lyrically Daughter can touch on the austere, their sophomore effort follows suit with instrumentation that warps and absorbs with an icy, noir bent.
Akin to a wounded animal attempting to fend off any predatory threats, ‘Not To Disappear’ at first feels like it’s keeping you at an arm’s length. Whilst not bearing its teeth, Daughter’s latest output could almost be curled in the foetal position, not necessarily crying for help but gesturing that things aren’t right. ‘I feel numb in this kingdom’ coos Tonra softly on ‘Numbers’ with a discontented tone that depicts someone withdrawn from whatever is troubling them. On the exposed ‘Alone/With You’ we’re ushered into a relationship that’s capitulated, where Tonra confesses that she hates being alone but the other option of being with someone where the love has gone is just as bad as being alone. Lyrics flit from “I hate being alone” to “I hate sleeping with you/because you’re never there” thus to refer to a partner that’s present in body but not mind and spirit. Once the record gathers pace, you feel a sense of catharsis in the way Tonra can openly chronicle subjects that are niggling in her brain like an itch that cannot be scratched.
Sonically, Daughter has made a confident stride forward, at times the band can still appear reserved and cautious, with tracks that hold an impregnable frostiness. However, when an element of urgency and vibrant tempo changes are injected into the album’s final quarter – it hints at where the band could go on album three and most importantly works as a release valve to the pent up tension occurring at the LP’s beginning. Equally, the need to ramp things up and hurl in some caustic noise – the sonic equivalent of screaming your head off – adds a new welcome dimension to Daughter’s cannon. In amongst the more languid tracks, additional layers of electronics and dynamic shift gives weight to Tonra’s delivery whilst noting the band have been happy to experiment too.
‘Not To Disappear’ is a trouble soul, once it gains your trust – it’s an album to lose yourself in.
Words and thoughts of Adam Williams