One of the debuts of the year came from London trio Daughter. No shout, no scream but a tender whisper drew people to the delicacy of ‘If You Leave’.
Daughter originated as the solo work of vocalist and musician Elena Tonra, who began creating music in 2010. They progressed to a trio over the following two years to include guitarist Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella. Their appraisal was gained mainly through word of mouth and support from a number of critics including For Folk’s Sake who described the band as having “one of the most unique sounds in the pop landscape today”.
They released a number of acclaimed EPs over the years including ‘His Young Heart’ and ‘The Wild Youth’ without any support from a record label. These included early favourites such as ‘Home’ and ‘Medicine’. The genius and intricacy of Daughter is perhaps most apparent on the opening track of their 2011 EP; ‘Landfill’ is atmospheric and momentous without ever using crescendo or operatics; it’s the haunting melange of Elena’s harsh vocal, the simplistic guitar chords, ominous pounding drums and enthralling, haunting lyrics.
The second offering includes an early recording of cult classic ‘Youth’. The lyrics to this song are not only intelligently poetic but they are heartbreakingly relatable. We have all had that moment of self destruction as the pain of rejected love or a violent break up just becomes too much to bare; the way this song is constructed means it has a sombre, uplifting quality which makes it so anthemic yet so devastating all at once.
2013 & Their Survival:
After a sold out headline show at The Assembly Hall in London, the band signed with prestigious label 4AD. There was a large amount of anticipation surrounded this relatively new band ahead of their release. There was a small part of me that wondered how they were going to recreate the tenderness and intricacy of the four track EPs in a feature length album whilst only carrying over one pre-existing track. However, ‘If You Leave’ is so beautifully written and has such narrative depth that you find yourself engaged throughout. Tracks such as ‘Still’ has such a quiet power in explaining the theme of a loveless relationship so perfectly that you can almost feel the love lost between this couple with every breath of Elena’s cold vocal.
The content is fixed in the sense that lost love is a prominent topic yet it is presented in sophisticated ways. ‘Lifeforms’ likens the weight of a past relationship to the rituals of insects in which they carry the dead along with them. ‘Smother’ asks the question if we had never left our mother’s womb, would he have escaped some of the tortures of love and life? You can probably already tell that ‘If You Leave’ takes a certain mind frame to truly enjoy. If you’ve had a fantastic day and decide to listen to this on your commute home you will probably be in tears by the time you reach your front door.
The likes of ‘Shallows’ have a sombre quality that entices you to look at the world in a larger scale and to realise that most of our actions are pretty tenuous in the grander scheme of things. It also makes you realise that everyone will experience their last day on earth, which is an incredibly depressing yet beautiful thought. These tracks are animated when Daughter perform live, they have sold out tours in the UK and the US along with packing out a number of tents at this year’s Glastonbury festival where they made my pick of the weekend for the sheer endearment and affection they obviously have for their craft. I saw them support Benjamin Francis Leftwich two years ago when they were performing as a duo as the enticement Elena has in her vocal is astounding. She is able to quiet an entire room and capture an audience, taking them from slight curiosity to absolute awe.
Daughter also managed to take on the track of 2013 when they visited the live lounge earlier this year. They flipped it on its head and created a delicate and endearing cover that will be kept in the archives for years to come.
The fact ‘If You Leave’ was ignored by the Mercury Prize Awards is pretty criminal, but I still believe the album will earn its own acclaim after charting within the UK top 20, and I would like to predict a Brit nomination for ‘Best British Breakthrough’. So anyone who is a fan of folk, alternative pop, pained female vocals and having a bit of a good cry with a large glass of wine, then this band and this album are most definitely for you.