[sic] Magazine

Daughter – Not To Disappear

Daughter are a wintery three-piece suited for a January release, the few rays of pale sunlight on Not To Disappear equally as short-lived as those on their chilly debut If You Leave. The London-based band remain similarly unrushed three years later, and Not To Disappear details singer Elena Tonra’s urban claustrophobia and tales of loss at length. She, her striking vocal and the album reveal themselves slowly, but so too do they offer salvation is measured doses.

Considering Daughter’s 4AD pedigree, the stripped-back “Doing The Right Thing” is surprising only in its direct tone, ethereality dialled back in favour of ebbing and flowing guitar chimes that snake past with a dangerous, almost Warpaint-like undertow. It kick starts a revolution, too, the monochrome “How” next exploding into triumphant colour within only a few bars, its bubbling bass work – somewhere between U2’s blubathon “With Or Without You” and Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack – turning Tonra’s internal battle on its head and offering a viable escape route. Not To Disappear’s longest track by some distance, all seven minutes of the cinematic “Fossa” conjure a shedding of weight and a sense of literal fleeing, Tonra’s whispery Bat For Lashes interpretation weaving in and out of driving, Arcade Fire-style melody and ambient cooing.

The band’s deceptive fragility allows them to hit hard when required – often contorting their quiet-loud structures on a sixpence. Melancholy mosey “New Ways”, for example, hangs its slo-mo acoustic chords in suspension before crashing in with weighty post-rock guitar and a graunching crescendo that lands like an ice-shelf crashing into the sea. This elemental edge invites comparison with Esben & The Witch, but Daughter remain a more emotional proposition. Hammering away on high-end piano keys as if they were heart strings, “To Belong” gives the impression of growing in confidence, but Tonra remains love-sick, the product of her stifling worries which come to a head during the breathless “No Care” – urgent finger-work matched by her frenzied near-spoken vocal, driving percussive ticking the awkward paradigm of sex and lust to its inevitable fall-out. “Alone / With You” adds a ghost beat to the same mix and it’s a revelation, the pneumatic synth repeats working in unison with surge-and-lunge post-laptronica and choral composition – Tonra’s neuroses, this time about being alone despite being surrounded and of living with memories and in a fading relationship, are as impressive as they are poignant.

Not To Disappear is the full package; even its artwork is cold, otherworldly, indistinct … yet beautiful. And, through Daughter’s intelligent restraint and apoplectic anger issues, it’s an album that not only transcribes tears into something musically (rather than melismatically) meaningful, but one that recontextualises the band’s debut also. Where If You Leave seemed intangible in places, Not To Disappear offers a lifeline in an atmospheric squall. It’s as if the blue pill held the passport to enlightenment this whole time.

Best track: “How”

~Not To Disappear is released January 15th 2016 via 4AD.~