Daughter, Not to Disappear, 2016, 4AD
Doing the Right Thing
Alone / With You
Made of Stone
Indie folk trio Daughter are Londoner Elena Tonra on vocals, Igor Haefeli from Switzerland on guitar and Remi Aguilella who is French on drums. A perfect example of the cultural melting pot of the English capital where they formed in 2010. Not to Disappear was their second album.
"New Ways" is such a subtle start, initially you can barely hear the vocal but when the guitar hits it gives the track just enough power to draw you into it, it’s a cool and unusual start which seagues seamlessly into "Numbers", a slightly faster track but with no less delicate a vocal. It’s got a strong Florence and The Machine vibe (sorry, I tried to resist the comparison, but it’s true). The album’s lead single "Doing the Right Thing" which is written about the effect Tonra’s grandmother’s Alzheimer's disease has had on her family has a delicate melody to go along with the brutally sad lyrics. It’s strangely lovely though, in a ghostly sort of way. How has some cool guitar work but is otherwise forgettable. "Mothers" describes the toll that carrying a child takes on both the body and the mind and so the darkness continues, again though it’s surprisingly beautiful. "Alone / With You" is a welcome change of pace. It’s like if Radiohead did House music. It’s great though, definitely my album highlight although still nothing fun to be found in the lyrics. "No Care" is totally different, right from the fast drumming at the start. If Mike Skinner was ethereal this would be a track by The Streets. I love a track where the drummer shines and this is it. I’d love to hear more like this from the band. "To Belong" is a return to the earlier tone but with a bit more edge and bite to it, the vocal is a bit more interesting and there is some nice bass action too. "Fossa" is the first track that feels noisy. Again, the drums are allowed to shine, along with the guitar and this time without a vocal for half of the track. "Made of Stone" closes the album in a similar style to how it began, but you can forgive them a return to familiar territory after a few more experimental tracks.
Initially, I thought an entire album about the misery within human relationships was going to prove too depressing for me, but Tonra’s voice draws you in like a lullaby. You know it’s taking you to a very dark place but it’s so intoxicating that you want to stay despite the gloom. The second half of the album is much stronger than the first thanks to its diversity of sound. The first half becomes a little samey and begins to merge together, however with the exception of the final track, the second half gives enough interest for someone of a cheerier disposition to enjoy it. If you are in a bad mood that won’t lift though, this is definitely the album for you. It won’t make you feel any better but it will help you to wallow in your despair.
It’s a genuinely interesting album and it does draw you in. I definitely enjoyed it and I’m excited to hear more from them. The band are a favourite of TV soundtracks and indeed their third album was a full soundtrack, so you may find them hard to avoid which is certainly no bad thing.