When attention first began to shift towards the London based trio Daughter, there was an obvious air of potential to their tender and brittle offerings. However there was also a slight hint of pretension underlining some of their initial work. The bands lyricism occasionally came across as poetically affected, and some of the instrumental foundations felt a little emotionally prefabricated. In many ways, it was like staring at something promising through a pane of frosted glass. You could see it, but its clarity was obscured. With their second album, Not To Disappear, Daughter have made significant strides towards shedding previous distractions, and in doing so, have produced their most resonating work to date.
The sizeable shifts that allowed this to occur stem from a more noticeable sense of confidence, particularly within the bands instrumentation. As a whole, their approach is slower, more focused and as a result the sparse atmosphere they’ve created on this record spreads wider and leaves a deeper impression. Guitar tones are more rigid and have a sharper point while the percussion is more spacious and complimentary.The compartmentalised single “Doing The Right Thing” is a crisp example of this — it’s made of separate parts, each of which alter the tempo and shift emphasis throughout. It’s not just the overarching foreground of the album’s framework that impresses, though, Not To Disappear is a record that houses numerous noticeable moments that, despite being small in stature, make a big difference.
The dusty, synth driven ambience that tees up the beginning of “Mothers” acts not only as a contemplative introduction but perfectly compliments the hushed vocals of Elena Tonra. Whilst the synthetic and shimmering pulse that runs through “Alone/With You” really adds to the isolation and the anxiety of the track’s theme. The album is indeed rife with the same kind of melancholic tones that accented their earlier work, but this time there’s greater effect woven into both the bigger picture and the less immediate details. A factor that also applies significantly to the songwriting on display.
Daughter’s lyrics still possess a somewhat esoteric quality, but they also have a much more open nature here. Tonra is frank and brutally honest about hopelessly self-medicating with casual sex, the numb feelings that follow and her empty, clambering attempts at finding something meaningful. There are some truly stark, straightforward and cynically blunt moments within her lyricism that linger like emotional bruises. There’s a cold disconnect to much of the album’s content, which adds significant weight to its presence. With a darker thematic centre and a lingering sense of isolated loneliness meshed with their colder, more prominent musicality, this redefined version of Daughter is one that leaves a deeper imprint.