Not To Disappear
15 January 2016; 4AD
Daughter have once again crafted the catalyst to coax an emotional response from even the most stoic listener. In their new album, Not to Disappear, the drifting vocals of Elena Tonra are a seamless accompaniment to the lyrical melancholy that’s delivered, and slow paced electric guitar reverberations create the ambience on which a story is painted on. The new album’s overall production is more texturised in its layering of instrumentals than their debut, which comes to us more defined and raw. Where I found their first album hiding behind poetic imagery and floaty melodies, their new music consistently shows intense artistic and emotional expression; the newest tracks are less fragile in their delivery and content. This being said, eliciting a strong emotional response, albeit commendable, isn’t always synonymous with great music – occasionally it feels like Daughter lose sight of that fact.
Beautifully written songs are part of Daughter’s trademark, and this album does not disappoint. After producing a series of cathartic films to accompany select tracks on their new album, particularly the heavy hitting ‘Doing the Right Thing’, we have a superb visual accompaniment to give the full understanding of what Tonra is trying to accomplish with her lyrics. Her voice is genuinely sublime, and perfectly conveys the emotion that her words encompass, and the high pitched, echoing guitar alongside that flows into the background only highlights this fact. It is clear that Tonra and Haefeli are a brilliant pairing.
It’s slow, heavy, and the vocals are consistently a soft whisper dealing with loss, loneliness, nostalgia and illness
Although the majority of the tracks on this album are expectedly slow paced, it’s for this reason that ‘No Care’ stands out from the others. It begins with a fast, woody beat that escalates into cyclical melodies from guitarist Haefeli and flowing vocals that are combined to show the potential for Daughter’s skills to progress into something that breaks their self-imposed mould. It’s this mould holds the album back. In its entirety, it rarely changes from anything but this aerated ambience, which can be seriously boring if you aren’t in the frame of mind that wants to listen to something that’s consistently slow, and sad. The content of the tracks has a great deal of work that’s been put into them, but where the album excels in depth it lacks variety.
It would be so easy to say that this album is depressing. I wouldn’t blame you. It’s slow, heavy, and the vocals are consistently a soft whisper dealing with loss, loneliness, nostalgia and illness. Sometimes this can come across as pretentious, and especially gloomy. But, that’s exactly what Daughter are known for, and they’ve never promised to be anything else. The music is brilliantly produced, but as strange as it sounds I feel like you have to be in the mood to listen to Daughter, to enjoy listening to this album. It’s like watching a sad movie and feeling happy afterwards. A strange paradox.