Album Review: Daughter, ‘Not To Disappear’

Dreamy, indie-folk trio Daughter released their debut album If You Leave into the world a short few years ago in 2013, with the widely popular “Youth” attached. It set the band on high ground within the indie music crowd, with tension filled lyrics and open mouthed declarations of trivial matters twisted into intimate metaphors.

With no monumental lead in, it was hard to tell which direction Not To Disappear was headed towards.

Lead singer Elena Tonra’s breathy vocals bleed more power in the second single “Numbers” with fast paced drums, courtesy of Remi Aguilella. It’s a track wrought with heavy, knowing pauses that feels almost slow motion in its heavy alternative rock rhythm with repetitive lyrics: “You better, you better, you better / You better make me / Me better, me better / You better make me better.”

The intimacy of Not To Disappear is a gentle ode of simplicity caught in a dark storm. “Doing The Right Thing,” cites the impending feeling of forgetting, “I have lost my children / I have lost my love / I just sit in silence / And let the pictures soak.”

Tonra’s cocktail of feelings crack under the pressure of making a full length album with tracks like “No Care” and “Alone / With You.” The duo of tracks feel like they could have been placed under the hazy dream state of If You Leave.

“To Belong” rests between being a dream and a nightmare. It fluctuates in tone, with the verses and bridge taking the listener through a pitch black forest before erupting into a higher register of Tonra’s voice and into the light, before reversing.

The eleven tracks make up a world of neo-folk and alternative rock. The guitar snares and tight drums bounce back and forth in a tug of war that keeps the songs interesting enough that you don’t actually start to dream during the album. Not To Disappear is put together in a thought provoking way that sounds just as gritty as it does clean.

“Made of Stone” is the closest Not To Disappear gets to If You Leave. The track is reminiscent of Florence and The Machine with Tonra’s voice demanding her vocal chords to replicate the nostalgic tone Welch’s voice naturally gives way to. “I think I’m made of stone,” Tonra ponders. “I should be feeling more.”

The album rests on the act of disappearing, while simultaneously avoiding it. In some ways, it’s almost as if the album traps the listener in the idea that one can never get away from the inevitable act of being forgotten and ultimately, to forget. There’s a desperation to the lyrics that weren’t apparent in If You Leave, and it makes this sophomore LP surpass tedious metaphors as an artful reflection of life, death and motherhood.

Not To Disappear is a cocktail of indie folk at its finest, despite the bumps in fluidity. It’s not an LP made to be broken down and picked apart. The album as a whole starts with a twisted knot that slowly loosens at its base before ultimately unraveling and leaving itself exposed.

Rating: 9/10

Not To Disappear is released under 4AD / Glassnote Records. It is available for purchase now.

Brooke Pawling Stennett is a college student pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism and Creative Non-Fiction in the old Windy City. She tends to lean toward the obsessive side of the tracks when it comes to books and music. She's an avid concert attendee (or at least she tries to!) and rambler. She'd like to travel the world and write about it, but in the only ways she knows how: sarcastically and full of internet jargon. Her opinions are her best ones, especially if they involve boy-bands and Netflix. . .even though she doesn't even have her own account. You can tweet her at @br_stennett and tell her how ridiculous (and totally great!) her opinions are.