Saturday, 30 January 2016

Daughter - Not To Disappear review

Back in the spring of 2013, following a string of critically acclaimed EPs, British three-piece Daughter swept us all up in their torrent on melancholic indie-folk with their excellent debut album If You Leave. The track 'Youth' not only became the go-to soundtrack for a host of melodramatic adverts and TV dramas, but also gained a fair amount of mainstream radio play and exposure. The concept of 'crushing sadness' is not initially that appealing when looking for new music, but somehow Daughter made it work. Each of the tracks on If You Leave were dramatic, emotive and well-crafted, so much so that the album felt far more accomplished than what you'd normally expect from a band's debut album. Nearly 3 years on, the time has come for the band to rise the bar and build on these foundations in order to establish themselves as more than just a one-album-wonder. I would say that the band largely succeeded in this challenge and came through with a cohesive and grand follow-up.

Before I heard Not To Disappear, the words 'devastating' and 'crushing' were the first words that I would have associated with the band's music. Naturally, I expected this to remain the same once I heard their new record, especially when both early reviews and pre-release singles suggested that Not To Disappear would be sonically similar to its predecessor. I would now argue that the band's sound has progressed far beyond the parameters of 'sadness' and into something a lot more open and dynamic. Tracks like 'No Care' show an exciting change of pace and mindset, upping both the tempo and the mood of the record as Elena Tonra proclaims "no care, no care in the world/I don't care, don't care anymore"; a stark contrast to the heavier and denser themes of the band's earlier work.

A highlight in both the record and the band's discography as a whole; 'Fossa' brings an exciting level of energy and melody to the record as it nears its end. The longest track on the album by some margin; Fossa makes good use of its running time with a dynamic range of concepts and sounds, ending in a blaze of indie-rock glory. The crowning moment on the record however is the stunning track 'Numbers', which despite being a pre-release only truly resonated with me when I heard it within the context of the album. It was impossible for me not to be swept up in the lush, intoxicating soundscapes, garnished with Tonra's feather-light coos amongst intricate guitar riffs. This is by far the ~moment~ of the record, just as 'Youth' was the moment of If You Leave.

Overall, this album was a strong way to kick off what is already looking to be yet another fantastic year for music. I have never been someone who expects an artist to radically change their sound from one album to the next; this approach may have worked for the late and great David Bowie, but it doesn't work for everyone. Not To Disappear features many gems that assure Daughter's healthy musical progression into the future; from the sweeping soundscapes of Numbers to the epic instrumental moments that line the track 'Fossa', it is clear that Daughter still have many tricks up their sleeves to keep us engaged with their future output.

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