Words by Ed King / Pic by Sonny Malhotra
As double edged swords go…
On 1st September, Daughter release a new album – Music from Before the Storm, out digitally via 4AD.
Now those with more gaming savvy than I will know what I’m about to type next, but for the blindsided Daughter fans I must offer some quick clarification. This is not a ‘new album’ new album; it’s a soundtrack to the prequel of Deck Nine/Square Enix’s episodic graphic adventure, Life is Strange. I am not counting this. Not fully, anyway.
So why the review? Especially whilst being as full of hubris, Mario Kart memories and ‘issues’ around soundtrack commissions as I can be. Because it’s from Daughter, a band (as I admitted to 4AD’s press office) I would ‘probably follow under a truck’. Plus the last time I wrote about the shoe gazing musketeers was for their previous album release, Not to Disappear, so in the interests of continuity (if not objectivity) I settle down with a mug of imaginary coco and press play.
A familiar laconic twang, brooding production, scarred vocals… so far so good; ‘Glass’ takes us into what could well have been the end of the triptych I’ve been waiting nearly two years to hear. Then a growling introduction and declarations of isolation bring us into track two, ‘Burn down’; aside from a somewhat pan Atlantic lexicon, this could have been a well played part of Not to Disappear.
‘Flaws’ opens with some welcome and restrained ivory, always good to have keys, until a minute later and we are clawing our way out of something and standing triumphant on top of something else. I guess the game play will fill in the blanks. ‘Hope’ follows a similar trajectory, although with more of a march and Tonra’s vocals making a staggered cameo towards the end.
The rest of Music from Before the Storm follows the same album track style sheet – aside from ‘Burn it Down’, ‘All I Wanted’ and ‘A Hole in the Earth’ we are led by the spectre of Spector (…it’s a wall of sound pun) with only vocal embellishment.
But thirteen tracks long, with ‘three songs from Daughter’s back catalogue’ also featured in the game, Music from Before the Storm is not a half hearted affair. And you can tell, from the first mournful guitar string to the last thundercloud crescendo, that this is Daughter. But it’s also a side project – an exercise in production that screams, figuratively and at points literally, of the combined efforts from this exceptional three piece more with any desperate identity.
The narrative for Life is Strange – namely determined teen angst learning to play with power – is a near perfect fit, and if it weren’t for the occasional colloquialism and kit glove punch Music from Before the Storm could have passed itself off as album three. Nearly. But this isn’t a pop protégée or an FMCG styled indie affair, this is Daughter. And it must be tough being that good with a public to appease.
So whilst I’ll probably never play the game that brought this to my table, I am now systematically over playing the album; Music from Before the Storm will keep me happy enough, for now. Maybe through Christmas. But when we’re talking over priced green field excursions again…
‘Burn it Down’ – Daughter, as featured on Music from Before the Storm
Music from Before the Storm by Daughter is out from 1st September, released by 4AD in partnership with Square Enix. For more on Daughter, visit www.ohdaughter.com
Before the Storm: Life is Strange is out from 31st August, for more details click here www.lifeisstrange.com
For more from 4AD, visit www.4ad.com