i’m happy that this album is finally available in north america. i’ve been following daughter since early last year, when the london trio began picking up steam and recognition on this side of the atlantic. still, the band’s media presence is just about as low-key as the music they create, and those are the two aspects i enjoy the most. led by elena tonra, daughter craft morose and hauntingly ethereal songs that provide the perfect backdrop to sleepy wisconsin winters and long walks in the snow. with a collection of demos and two superb eps under their belt, daughter was poised to take the next step and procure a more cohesive offering of their capabilities.
rumblings about if you leave began surfacing as early as last fall, when the band released a new song entitled “smother” backed with a reworked version of an early demo, “run.” after disappearing for another short stretch, daughter confirmed that they were putting the finishing touches on their debut album and that if you leave would be available in mid-march. this was followed by the release of another single, “still,” along with an accompanying music video.
armed with two very strong lead-in singles, daughter confirmed my suspicions; they were only going to get better. if you leave contains ten one-name tracks, including fully realized versions of early demos like “tomorrow” and “shallows,” as well as a reworked version of “youth,” my favorite song off of their stellar the wild youth ep. upon simply gazing at the tracklist, cause for concern due to repetition was initially felt, but these songs feel fresh, with new arrangements and more confident vocals and ensemble presence felt throughout. the flow and contrast of if you leave is greatly aided by “human,” a standout track that feels positively upbeat in comparison with the rest of the band’s repertoire.
the absence of love is not absent from the core of if you leave, as reflected in the album’s title itself. tonra still masterfully sings about solitude and bleak outlooks on life; “touch” finds her almost begging for physical contact, confessing “i’m dreaming of strangers/kissing me in the night/ just so i can feel something.” the album title sneaks into its finale track, a reworked and substantially longer version of “shallows,” originally the opening song on a collection of early daughter demos. it’s fitting that their catalogue would come full-circle, and in such an eloquent fashion.