I love my iPhone. Its ‘old’ enough to create nostalgia, pity and scorn, but has been appreciated company on many long journeys. Even though the buttons don’t fully work, I can’t access the Internet anymore and I receive calls on separate handset, I still love my iPhone.
Plus it has all my walking around music on it, so it generally never leaves my side. And as I gleefully upload Daughter’s new album, Not to Disappear, I am itching to stick my earphones back in and take that cabin fever walk-round-the-park that every self employed person relies upon to stay sane.
It’s been three years since Daughter’s debut album was released, the superb If I Leave, creating a triptych soundtrack (along with Lucy Rose and Benjamin Francis Leftwich) that simply owned my life for a while. I am Christmas Day childish about sinking my teeth into their sophomore. And as I march through the opening track, ‘New Ways’, I am immediately on identifiable ground; soft echoes, mournful guitar, and Elena Tonra’s lone cry – firm, distant and lost. Ah, to be home…
Then as ‘Numbers’ rolls in, track No#2, I start to pick out the counterpoints. There is noticeable volume on this album already (think dimensions not sound) with the familiar motifs surrounded by a fallout cloud that only flirted through If I Leave. And honestly, I’m not initially sure. It feels heavy and distracting, but I can imagine its weight effectively crossing the rooms of a more capacious tour circuit.
‘Doing the Right Thing’ gives a gentle hat tip to track three from its predecessor, but doesn’t quite compete. After all, what could. Before a subtle tease into the waves of distorted metal brings the most ball grabbing moment of this album yet; take a pinch of Pixies, a dash of Mogwai, mix it in the same bowl you blended the Drive soundtrack together in, and you have ‘How’ – a formidable introduction to Daughter Round 2.
The rest of Not to Disappear continues its hopscotch between producers past/present and walls/whispers of sound, with the front seat reserved for Torna’s noticeably visceral lyrics – exploring pertinent human stories, from the loss of dementia to sexual isolation.
This is a clear evolution with Not to Disappear, as a seemingly more unguarded pen captures some exquisitely dark explosions; “…how I wanted you to promise we would only make love, but my mouth felt like I was choking on broken glass, so I just slept it off…” In fact the whole of that song; pick a line. And I dare you to watch the video for the album’s lead single, ‘Doing the Right Thing’, without something in your eye.
Overall, there is a little bleeding of one track into another – with the weight behind some of Not to Disappear’s more deserving punches being felt more when landed on their own. There is no ‘Youth’ on this album. But where the prodigal Daughter album arguably waned, in its faster paces such as ‘Human’, Not to Disappear not only excels but sets a formidable precedent for anything left in this band’s arsenal.
‘No Care’ (track No#7 and the home of the cited lyric above) is the finest moment in Daughter’s two album portfolio, in my overplayed opinion. And I say that with equal judgment and love.
But let’s face it; if you’ve heard If I Leave (and you’ve read this review up to here) then you’re going to hear its follow up, regardless. Three years is a long enough time to wait. And despite their claustrophobic and safe starting points, some moments of change can make everything just a little better.
Then by some wonderful combination of serendipity and a manufacturer’s warranty, after a couple of circuits my iPhone gets stuck on ‘All Songs’ – amalgamating both Daughter albums into one sonorous sandwich. So whilst there’s still a break in the clouds I might as well walk round the park once more. I work hard enough; I’ll go back after this track, or maybe the next. Perhaps in half an hour. After all this is research…
I really could get an upgrade, something all singing-all-dancing-bright-shiny-and-new, something that would make the world around me happier; but everything has its time and place. And I still love my iPhone.
‘Doing the Right Thing’ – Daughter
Not to Disappear is released via 4AD from Friday 15th January. For more on Daughter, including online purchase points, visit http://www.4ad.com/artists/daughter
Daughter playing at the O2 Institute on Wednesday 20th January – with support from Pixx. For direct gig info, visit http://go.shr.lc/1n3i1xI
Visit the official Daughter website at http://ohdaughter.com/
For more from 4AD, visit http://www.4ad.com/
For more from the O2 Institute, including full event listings & online tickets sales, visit http://o2institutebirmingham.co.uk/