Not To Disappear


4AD, 2016

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


If it’s cold and dreary where you are right now, I’ve got an album for you. As Snowpacalypse 2016 bores down on the East Coast, I’ve holed up with the second disc from North London’s Daughter, an indie band that blends folk, pop, and rock into a dynamic and altogether lovely sound. 

The trio behind Daughter– frontwoman Elena Tonra, Swiss-born guitarist Igor Haefeli and French drummer Remi Aguilella – is skilled at crafting veritable snow globes of sound: tiny, detailed, and delicate worlds that turn out to represent something much larger. For instance, opener “New Way” starts out hushed and spare, wide chasms of space between Tonra’s ghostly vocals and the hypnotic drums. But then it changes form entirely, the guitar line becoming melted and loose as the track sparkles with light. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The songs on Not To Disappear are a masterwork in playing with light and shadow – a good thing, too, because otherwise they would collapse under the weight of their own sorrow. Indeed, the best moments here reach a place of catharsis, moving beyond a slow-simmering sadness into something more expansive. The track that pulled me into Daughter’s world was “Doing The Right Thing,” which navigates this line nicely. It’s haunting yet gorgeous, building and receding and breathing with life, with an indelible refrain: “I’m just fearing one day soon / I’ll lose my mind / Then I’ll lose my children / Then I’ll lose my love / Then I’ll sit in silence / Let the pictures soak / Out of televisions.” 

In many spots here, Daughter reminds me of a less madcap (and sometimes more maudlin) Florence + The Machine, particularly her breakup-heavy latest disc. Sometimes things here do get a little too navel-gazing, like on the gloomy “Numbers” or the plodding “Mothers.” Meanwhile, I like “Alone / With You” more in theory than in actual practice, as the lyrics are a sharp sting, cloaked in an equally grim haze of instrumentation: “I hate dreaming of being alone / ‘Cause you are never there / Just a shadowy figure with a blank face / Kicking me out of his place.” Penultimate cut “Fossa” navigates a similar lyrical territory but lands more effectively, backing the reverb-soaked guitars with shapeshifting tempo changes.

But then, Daughter strikes with a cut like the raw, energetic “No Care,” an outlier on Not To Disappear and endlessly enjoyable for it. I’d love even more moments like this, in which the album’s misery gets mobilized into action. It gives a sense of where the band might go on future releases, taking the sometimes hidden sparkle of Not To Disappear and allowing it fully into the light. Still, in the wintry January chill, this is a disc I will keep spinning.

Rating: B

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