With their debut ‘If You Leave’, London-based Daughter produced downcast, melodic indie that spoke to a legion of lovelorn. Because of that, the band - comprising of Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli and Remi Aguilella – managed the feat of debuting within the Top 20 of the UK album chart, whilst soundtracking a slew of primetime shows and packing festival tents. Their songs imbued with an inclusiveness, you wondered if their star would burn even brighter next time round.
All in all, Daughter manage to side-step the dreaded sophomore curse with ‘Not To Disappear’, retaining the funereal feel of their debut, whilst exploring more expansive soundscapes. Where there was a sensual sadness to ‘Leave’, ‘Not To Disappear’ is an illuminating escapade through murkier terrains.
Sonically, expect a heady mix of bold guitar flourishes and unforeseen tempo shifts, take the emphatic chorus of ‘No Care’, where you can feel the palpable fury through Tonra’s dusky but piercing vocal. It serves as a reprieve from the mid-tempo pensive melodrama that comes to the band naturally, and all too easily. Featuring a sing-along “I don’t care, I don’t care anymore”, Daughter step out from behind the shadows into the arena lights, the band reaching beyond their safe haven.
‘Not To Disappear’ chronicles themes that are more stimulating and as a result there are harder, bitter pills to swallow. Grappling with mortality, and losing touch with one’s past is found in the one-two punch of ‘Numbers’ and ‘Doing The Right Thing’, Daughter painting a picture of misperception, Tonra managing to teach us all a lesson in detachment. Tonra’s wordplay is visceral and it’s woven together nicely by Haefeli’s lush but icy guitars and Aguilella’s brilliant off-the-wall percussion, creating a sub-zero atmosphere, it’s engulfing and exhilarating and you feel as if your falling through a vacuum. These tracks are shining examples of the band’s understanding of building auditory landscapes that live and grow with each repeated listen.
Lyrically, Tonra flits between ethereal Austen-lite wordplay that characterised the band’s debut with some refreshing candour. The band live and thrive in tension-filled places, all pariahs, in their homes and on the road. This is most defined by ‘Alone/With You’ where Tonra is a walking paradox, purring the line “I hate dreaming of being with you” - her insides laid bare, denouncing the layers you have to shed in relationships. You sense Tonra is more at ease when there’s an ‘I’ instead of a ‘We’, even if she’d like that aforementioned dream to be her reality. Her voice is one that filters reassuringly through, possessing a lullaby quality that both chills and cleanses. Her cadence does come close to sounding detached and one-note, even if that is part of the charm.
‘Not to Disappear’ revels in the spectral, but serves up some tough, earthier incarnations of ruined relationships and broken identities. It’s a subtle progression for the trio, the band honing their craft to produce a record that is equal parts compelling as it is isolating.
Words: Shahzaib Hussain
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