Question: Just how do you go about trying to match an album as peerless, wholly immersive and as widely acclaimed and adored as Daughter’s 2013 debut ‘If You Leave’? Simple: Up the ante on every level. Building on that record’s gloriously dark intensity, wracked emotion and come-hither diaphanous textures, ‘Not To Disappear’, the new full-length release from the London-based trio – singer/guitarist Elena Tonra, guitarist/producer Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella – is a mighty declaration of intent.
My most overused word of the day today is definitely “confident”. I’ve used it to describe nearly everyone, mostly because it was the right word, and Einstein is alleged to have said that “the greatest coincidence would be if there were no coincidences”. (I bet he didn’t, but it sounds clever so…).
As I watch Daughter, and fall ever more irretrievably in love and lust with Elena Tonra, and this music swells and swoons around me, I realise that I’ve probably never used the word “beautiful” in a review.
And it’s not that they lack confidence! Although they do seem very happy to be here, I don’t think they’re actually surprised. But I realise that there just isn’t that much beauty in the music I love. There might be lots of emotion, grace, love and skill, but not many manage to make an actually beautiful sound. Daughter have beauty to spare.
Although normally restricted to just three members, today they’re joined by Lucy Parnell on a third guitar/keyboard/bass. But what a transcendent noise they can make with just that!
Their songs feel unusually intimate and personal. Like The XX, or Arab Strap, one gets the feeling of reading someone else’s diary; of glimpsing something uniquely, almost uncomfortably personal. Much of this is down to Tonra’s breathy vocals, but the arpeggiated guitars and space often left around them by the percussion help.
But it’s the moments when everyone floods back in that are the engine that drives this. Their sound would be nothing without these moments of explosive guitar noise. All this emotion needs to come out with some force, and they know how to bring that power when it’s needed. Live, this works even better, especially when assisted by the expert production on this giant stage.
Naked, raw and unafraid to be exactly what they are, Daughter seem somehow to be retaining their credibility despite their wide-reaching popularity. They brought me those hands-in-the-air, stadium-rock, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck feels that so many try for, without the all-too-common attendant naff-ness. Quite a trick.