January 11, 2016

Daughter, a three-piece band from London, consistently evoke a range of emotions throughout their sophomore full-length, Not To Disappear. Together, Elena Tonra (vocals, guitar, bass), Igor Haefeli (guitar, bass), and Remi Aguilella (drums, percussion) have succeeded in creating a personal, indie sound with passionate lyrics emphasized by ambient, electrifying music.

They kick off their new album with several bone-chilling songs, namely “New Ways,” “Numbers,” and “Doing the Right Thing.” Tackling personal change (“I need new ways to waste my time”), relationship expectations vs. reality (“You better make me better”), and a gripping case of Alzheimer’s (“I have lost my children/ I have lost my love/ I just sit in silence / Let the pictures soak”), Daughter shows they are back and even better than before. Evidently, this powerful beginning to the album truly sets the tone for the record.

Not To Disappear explores the low depths of loneliness and loss while also covering the despair of plunging into a tormented abyss of love. To accomplish this, Daughter’s music and lyrics took major steps towards a more bold, experimental soundscape of great ambience, emotion, and diversity. The album’s message doesn’t hide behind vague metaphors or catchy choruses. Instead, the music carries the emotion of the lyrics, really giving the album a feeling experience as opposed to a listening one. This is evident in one of the album’s deeper tracks, “Fossa,” where the music is incredibly diverse–switching style and speed frequently to match the emotion in the lyrics. Toward the end of the track, Elena belts out, “I haven’t opened up / The floodgates again, to another man / Who controls the pain and never says anything,” while the music switches into an accented slow breakdown, letting her vocals lead the way.

Taking a bold turn from their first album, Not To Disappear comes off stronger lyrically. While If You Leave also showcases Elena’s lyrical prowess, Not To Disappear gives a more pointed message supplemented by well-placed, repetitive emphasis and stronger language. “I only wanted you to promise me we would only ever make love / But my mouth felt like I was choking, broken glass / So I just slept it off,” Elena sings in “No Care,” the fastest track on the album.

The perfect compliment to the aching lyrics is the flawless balance of ambiance and groove, courtesy of the instrumental talent rampant in this group. At every emotional turn, the music is there to accent the feelings. Each song seems to have a fairly minimal start while, one note at a time, the music builds around the vocals for a warm yet chilling soundscape. Perfectly-placed in the middle of the album, “How,” is the best song to listen to while driving in your car. In it, Elena shows off her beautiful vocals while the music gives a happy feel despite the sad message: “How long must I wait for you / To become what I need?” Very self-aware of their intent, Daughter offers musical breaks in the middle and at the end of certain tracks to give listeners a chance to catch their breath and have a moment to soak it all in. As such, one of the album’s most powerful songs, “Fossa,” has a pleasant musical outro that provides listeners with the perfect noise to soak in the powerful album right in time for the last track, “Made of Stone.”

Ultimately, I hesitate to say that Daughter has found their sound with Not To Disappear, because I thoroughly enjoy the long, beautiful strides they take between albums and I hope they continue with that pace. Daughter is the perfect band to listen to when you’re sad, and If You Leave was the perfect “sad” album–at least until Not To Disappear stole the title.



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