This Daughter article was written by Suzanne Oswald, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zara Heath.
On debut album ‘If You Leave’, Daughter welcomed us into their beautiful but fragile world to much critical acclaim. It was an album that could wrap itself around you with wintry sadness, crafted so beautifully with Elena Tonra’s wistful poetry surrounded by gothic atmospherics. It therefore seems appropriate that Daughter have chosen to release their follow up record ‘Not to Disappear’ in one of the coldest, bleakest months of the year.
As soon as you hear the airy guitars and pulsing electronics on opener ‘New Ways’, a welcome sense of familiarity sweeps over you. However, the synthetic loops and huge, sweeping electric riffs on the chorus lend more weight than we’re used to. The opening track moves swiftly into ‘Numbers’, a song so characteristically fraught with honesty which builds upon the lyrical quality of the first album, simultaneously so painful yet reassuring. Behind Tonra’s melancholic delivery, greater focus is placed on Remi Aguilella who is let loose on the drums, seemingly trying to race beyond the soundscape of the song.
More than ever before, Daughter sound like a collective working together. Everything seems bigger and more glacial this time around; the volume is turned up and the ambiance is heightened, indicating greater confidence in their sound. For example, ‘How’ only takes fifteen seconds to envelop you in its huge, vibrant riffs while on ‘Fossa’, Tonra’s characteristically aching delivery leaves the song three minutes before its conclusion, a move that previously would have been unthinkable. It’s a compelling, noisy finale to the song which allows the band to let loose.
‘No Care’ adds another dimension to the album. It’s a frantic burst of energy, preventing the record from settling into the one groove, with Tonra’s spitting lyrics providing a narrative of self-loathing and sexual disgust. It’s an unapologetically hostile moment from the band, as Tonra repeats ‘I don’t care I don’t care anymore’ over and over again.
Like the previous record, it is the frontwoman’s beautiful lyricism that elevates the band’s music above the threat of monotony, as she constantly battles against loneliness and despair. This time however, the lyrics have become even more personal. The poetics and metaphors of cold winters and frozen hearts have been replaced with a more straight-talking Tonra, making the album an altogether more personal experience. For example, ‘Alone/Without You’ is an aggressive cry against loneliness, describing alienation from your partner, with a degree of self-disgust, ’I hate living alone, talking to myself is boring conversation… I hate living with you, I should get a dog or something’.
It is surprising how easy it is to be swept up by her emotional vulnerability, particularly on lead single ‘Doing the Right Thing’. Be warned: get a handkerchief at the ready. The song is sung through the eyes of Tonra’s grandmother who has dementia and is very aware of her lapsing state, ‘then I’ll lose my children, then I’ll lose my love’. Most heart-breaking of all is her lost memories, ‘I’ll call out in the night for my mother/But she isn’t coming back for me’, before a pregnant pause, some haunting guitar work and the poignant recognition that ‘you will not tell me that/cause you know it hurts me every time you say it’.
On ‘Not to Disappear’, Daughter have proven themselves to be a band growing in confidence, both sonically and lyrically. By expanding their sound, they have created an intensely captivating record, eager to revel in its own darkness.
‘Not to Disappear’ is out now via Glassnote Records.