On their 2013 debut ‘If You Leave’, London trio Daughter ushered us into their fragile but beautiful world – one where life’s woes were expressed through guitar lines like Arctic blasts and Elena Tonra’s despondent poetry. Follow-up ‘Not To Disappear’ marks some low-key changes to their M.O (a smattering of synths here, a confessional attitude there), but even heading to New York last summer to work with Animal Collective producer Nicolas Vernhes hasn’t shaken their sadness.
A wintry kind of misery is what Daughter do best, though, and that icy sound whips throughout the record, Igor Haefeli’s guitar melodies as smooth and cold as glaciers. Tonra’s lyrics, too, are resolutely downcast, but feel rawer and more honest. Gone is her tendency to hide her true feelings behind poetic masks, replaced by straight-talking sorrow, as if she’s washing her wounds for all to see.
Loss, loathing and loneliness are big themes in Tonra’s stream-of-consciousness musings throughout the record. On ‘Alone/Without You’, she details a no-win kind of alienation where your partner’s company repulses you as much as your own (“I hate living alone, talking to myself is boring conversation… I hate living with you, I should get a dog or something”). The fraying tension of ‘Doing The Right Thing’ looks at memory loss from the perspective of Tonra’s grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s (“I’m just fearing one day soon I’ll lose my mind/Then I’ll lose my children, then I’ll lose my love”), and the coiled ‘No Care’ is full of hostility, the singer elegantly spitting her words out, barely containing the disgust she’s aiming at herself.
‘Not To Disappear’ might pick up where ‘If You Leave’ left off, but it’s a far more powerful, affecting and confident record. There’s a fresh, subtle aggression to the music in places (like the surging guitars and Remi Aguilella’s crunching drums on opener ‘New Ways” peaks) and the franker lyrical approach makes the sentiments within even more capable of breaking your heart than before. On ‘New Ways’ Tonra sings “I’m trying to get out, find a subtle way out/Not to cross myself out, not to disappear.” With Daughter’s second album, she’s more poignantly present than ever and her suffering is an emotional exorcism we can all find strength in.