First Spin… Daughter's Not to Disappear
Daughter came together in 2010 when Swiss-born guitarist Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella from France joined forces with London-based vocalist Elena Tonra. The trio released two EPs and, in 2013, a full-length debut, If You Leave. The record also brought the band the Independent Album of the Year award at the 2013 AIM Independent Music Awards in London. Tours supporting The National and Ben Howard also followed.
Over two years later, Daughter is releasing its follow-up. Work on Not to Disappear (which you can preview and purchase on the right-hand side of the page) began in 2014, with the first single 'Doing the Right Thing' appearing in the fall of 2015. With Tonra’s emotive vocals pinning down the song’s ethereal, atmospheric textures, everyone was curious to see where they could take the sound on their second full-length effort...
hmv.com secured an advance copy of Not To Disappear. Here's what we heard…
On the opening track, Tonra’s vocals are hazy, buried in the mix under the guitars. The song starts slow and mellow, but at the two-minute mark, rolling waves of feedback take it to another level of intensity, promising more where that’s from.
The second single from the album, 'Numbers' captures the feeling of not feeling. 'I feel numb/I feel numb in this kingdom,' Tonra sings amidst an arrangement as atmospheric and gauzy as that of 'Numbers' but with more emphasis on vocals and a busier rhythm. Look for English actress Natasha O’Keeffe (Peaky Blinders, Jekyll & Hyde) in the video.
'Doing the Right Thing'
'Can I take my clothes off/And I’ll walk around/Because it’s so nice outside/And I like the way the sun feels/And when it’s dark/I’ll call out in the night for my mother/But she isn’t coming back for me/’Cos she’s already gone.' Obviously, Tonra’s lyrics are worth paying attention to. This song, the first single, mentions children as well as a mom, which fits in with a maternal theme running through the record - there’s also a song called 'Mothers.' Arrangement-wise, where the first couple of tracks seemed to threaten to disappear in their own atmospheric guitar textures, 'Doing the Right Thing' has a little more meat on its bones.
This one has a nice stop-start groove and some swerve-y guitar. The Cocteau Twins influence is especially pronounced here.
Igor Haefeli’s guitar and Tonra’s vocals intertwine beautifully on this track. But we’re now mid-point through Not to Disappear, and it’s time for something a little different.
'Alone With You'
Is Tonra allowing some humour to sneak in amidst all the darkness? 'I hate living with you/I should get a dog or something,' she sings at one point. Elsewhere, she coos in the background. She’s still singing in the same disaffected poetry-reading voice as before, but allowing a little light in.
A propulsive guitar-line, uptempo drums and a vocal that seems just slightly off-time gives 'No Care' a much-needed boost to all the wonderful but enervating sadness in these grooves.
We’re back to the band’s comfort zone on 'To Belong,' another mid-tempo ballad, although one with some Edge-like guitar to add some bite. By now it’s apparent that Not to Disappear is a record and not just a collection of singles.
The penultimate track is usually an opportunity for an artist to stretch out, and that’s just what Daughter does here. Clocking in at nearly seven minutes, 'Fossa' is the longest song on the album, one that sees the band indulging in an extended jam (or what passes for a jam with an English dream-pop band; Phish has nothing to worry about). All the better to lead up to a more succinct coda.
'Made of Stone'
Tonra wraps up the album’s themes - loneliness, numbness, and, uhm, loneliness - on the final cut. Soft, warming textures from bandmates Haefeli and Remi Aguilella offer comfort and solace, at least until the next record.