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daughter – not to disappear

not to disappear

out january 15th via 4ad/glassnote

the framework of daughter has firmly been in place since its inception nearly five years ago: desolate soundscapes paired with lyrical turns that frequently transcend the confessional.  across a handful of early demos and a pair of eps in 2011 – his young heart and the wild youth – elena tonra crafted a persona as intimate as it is accessible, gradually absorbing the timbres and talents of igor haefeli and remi aguilella along the way.  after fully realizing the potential of that structure on 2013’s affecting full-length debut if you leave, daughter decamped to write not to disappear, a gorgeous follow-up that grapples with the ever-evolving turmoils of romance and isolation.

tonra has long been capable of penning devastating lyrics yet delivering them with such disarming consonance; this trait grows exponentially across not to disappear.  the clear frontrunner is “doing the right thing,” a character study of the gradual deterioration due to alzheimer’s – one that achieves peak poignancy through little more than shifting verb tenses – but residual effects are felt throughout the album.

“mothers,” a delicate slow-burning interlude, is a masterclass in conveying the physical pain that can result from unrequited love, and tonra notably channels that pain into vehemence on much of the album’s back half.  self-deprecation morphs into spite towards an absent and inattentive partner (“just a shadowy figure with a blank face / kicking me out of his place”) on “alone/with you,” a sentiment that tonra doubles down on just two songs later, stating “i don’t want to belong / to you, to anyone” with newfound conviction.

impeccable lyricism is arguably the most integral cog in daughter’s machine, but the trio makes strides in combatting the musical homogeneity that can accompany such a niche thematic area.  both haefeli and aguilella figure more prominently into each song’s direction; aguilella especially, as percussion propels tracks like “fossa” and “no care” into previously uncharted territories.  daughter also juxtaposes the convenient ambience that can quickly envelop sadness with tracks that flat-out groove (see: “how” and “to belong”) while “no care” is the closest analog to punk rock that this outfit has ever – and most likely will ever – pull off.

not to disappear reads as a composite sketch for an entire spectrum of daughter fans.  those seeking sparse moments of introspection will find solace in “made of stone” and “numbers,” while tracks like “how” and “fossa” will sate the appetites of others yearning to hear the band explore new sonic territories.  it’s a highly impressionable album at first glance, and the weight of its wintery despondency gradually seeps into your core with each subsequent listen.

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