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Solemn. Melancholy. Almost cacophonous in its softness. Daughter’s music has always had the ability to somehow silence my thoughts, but these were nonetheless what went through my mind during my first listen of Not To Disappear.
Daughter is a three-person band from England, and since their formation in 2010, they have released two albums, four EPs and three singles. Not To Disappear is their second album, released three years after 2013’s If You Leave. Despite the gap, Not To Disappear retains the eerie melancholy that has defined Daughter’s contribution to the indie folk genre.
One could not be blamed for dismissing Daughter’s music as depressing. It is. With songs characterized by loss, vulnerability and loneliness, it’s hard to come upon one that will make you want to get up and dance. If You Leave was the epitome of this notion. Featuring soft, slow tracks with words that were better off imagined as whispers had they not been sung, the album inspired a hazy, dreamy feeling framed by endless lyrical metaphors.
Where If You Leave was soft and somber even at its most emotional, Not To Disappear abandons the listless loneliness and replaces it with a more blatant desperation.
Not To Disappear is a reflection of this same idea, but Daughter has taken a few steps in a different direction. When they first announced their second album in September 2014, guitarist Igor Haefeli claimed that the band was playing with a “rockier dynamic” this time around, influenced by all the touring they’ve been doing over the year, and this attempt becomes apparent in stronger crescendos and more insistent guitar and drum lines.
Where If You Leave was soft and somber even at its most emotional, Not To Disappear abandons the listless loneliness and replaces it with a more blatant desperation. The new dynamic brings the album somewhere as gritty as the indie folk genre can allow it to go. This second album works with themes of nostalgia and memory, is more reflective than cathartic, and while previous songs were hazy and dreamy, Not To Disappear feels grounded. The music is still solemn, still hardly ever above a whisper, but somehow louder and more defined.
The album begins with “New Ways,” a song that feels a lot like being wound up tight, but instead of this feeling being drummed up into a climax then released in a song equivalent of a denouement, the feeling continues throughout the whole album, leaving the whole picture exposed and raw. The songs themselves have their own climax and denouements, defined by fluctuating tones that take you somewhere low and dark one moment before erupting in weeping tracks and higher voices, or vice versa.
The lyrics are more honest, relying less on similes and more on personal confessions. The album’s frantic tone creates a feeling of helplessness, manifesting as a plea for help in some songs and as a resigned acceptance in others.
Not To Disappear takes a bolder approach to Daughter’s music, while nonetheless retaining the same intimacy and vulnerability I’ve slowly come to appreciate. Criticisms can be made out about the band’s repetitive nature, but those fade easily behind the lucidity this album has managed to achieve. It’s mature, it’s numb, and though some songs felt like they could have easily belonged in a previous album, I got what I came for, and more, when I heard Daughter had released a new album.
Photo Credit: 4AD