Daughter – Not To Disappear
Released January 15th, 2016 on 4AD Records
The second album from London ambient-indie band Daughter was supposed to be a “rockier” affair, drawing from the stuff they’d been doing on stage since their debut, 2013’s If You Leave. The only real evidence of anything more upbeat, or “rockier”, is the jittery, self-deprecating “No Care”. Now, if “rockier” referred to things being rockier emotionally then we’re suddenly on board. This is an album whose core is comprised of loneliness: loneliness by yourself, loneliness with others, the numb feelings that you’ll do anything to alleviate, and the awful feeling when a loved one whose mind has slipped into dementia no longer recognizes you. To put it more succinctly, it’s depressing, and not in the way that Hospice was depressing; it’s depressing and there’s no catharsis or light to bring contrast to the darkness. Combined with the expansive, reverb-heavy songcraft, it’s a bit of a job to get through.
At the same time, though, there’s something deeply honest about it. “Doing The Right Thing” is blatantly about slipping into senility, right down to the part at the end where the elder’s loved ones tell themselves they’re “doing the right thing” by putting them into a home. “Mothers” strikes along the same vein, exploring the language of give and take before taking the chilling realization that her face is now a stranger’s face to her mother. “Alone/With You”, meanwhile, repeats the same verse twice only substituting the “alone” in the first verse for “with you” in the second, and in doing so reveals truths about songwriter Elena Tonra’s relationships. “Numbers” seeks solace in casual relationships, anything to fill the void; “Made Of Stone” finds her wondering if there’s any emotion in her at all. It’s very confessional stuff, and couched in the Cocteau Twins-by-way-of-Grouper language of the music, it comes as more powerful than negative.