We’ve been huge fans of Daughter – originally just the amazing Elena Tonra and now a trio along with guitarist Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella – since we first heard her on her Demos E.P back in December 2010 and we’ve been patiently waiting for the debut L.P from her and them since then. The long and excruciating wait, lasting all of 791 days, has sometimes been made bearable via the two outstanding 4-track E.Ps Daughter released in the interim – His Young Heart E.P in April 2011 and The Wild Youth E.P in October of the same year – as well as her compelling 2012 single “Smother”.
The wait is finally over as If You Leave, the debut album from Daughter hits shelves on March 18 and we can safely say to you, that ‘If You Leave’ is one of the best albums you will hear in 2013! It is dark, raw, longing, moving, heart-wrenching, sad, honest, graceful, candid, misery epitomized, vulnerable, overwhelming, painful, devastating, powerful and emotive and captivating to say the very least, above all these however, it is a pretty amazing record!
From the very start of this record, there is nothing hasty about If You Leave which I absolutely love. The opening song “Winter” which bemoans innocence lost, is nearly five minutes long while there are four more songs on the album that run for over four minutes with the album’s curtain call, “Shallows” lasting for six glorious minutes – If You Leave is to be marinated and experienced, not impatiently rushed through. Typically in our fast-paced musical world, with songs these days lasting for three minutes or under, it would seem unfathomable to sit through over four minutes of such anguish and tragedy in just one song talk less of six but like I said, there is nothing typical going on here. Daughter holds your attention from start to finish; in fact the trio do much more than just hold your attention on this record. It feels like you are bound by this record – the pain, the heartbreak, the peril, the devastation. It all just overwhelms you such that the track lengths on If You Leave are the very last thing on your mind.
One of my early favourites on If You Leave is the album’s lead single “Smother”. With lyrics like “In the darkness, I will meet my creators and they will all agree that I’m a suffocator” and “I sometimes wish I stayed inside my mother, never to come out” delivered over ethereal guitar arrangements and vocal harmonies, “Smother” is resounding as it is painful. The theme on this song as on much of If You Leave is the aftermath of a relationship gone sour and the honesty and forthrightness with which Daughter offloads her heart and soul is very gripping, albeit heavy on the ear at times.
Another of my favourite songs on this album is “Touch”, a song about Elena’s desperate plea to feel “something”. On this song, she rather worryingly sings of “dreaming of strangers kissing me in the night just so I can feel something”. Musically, “Touch” is driven by dense percussion drums, layered synths and sparingly placed guitar arrangements, which together give the song a sense of emptiness and longing to match rather perfectly with Elena’s attempts at filling this void she has.
Parts of the new album will be familiar to day-one Daughter fans such as ourselves with massive favourites such as “Youth” and “Tomorrow” reappearing on If You Leave and rightly so, “Youth” – with Elena’s solemn vocals, heart-wrenching lyrics and an apt musical backdrop led by rumbling drums and acoustic guitars – was one of our best songs of 2011 while the rather celestial “Tomorrow”, which boasts some of the most damning self-prophetic lyrics we’ve ever heard, was one of the reasons we fell in love with Daughter in the first place.
If You Leave draws to a close with the epic “Shallows” – some of us will recognise it as “In The Shallows” from the Demos E.P but alas, this new version at over six minutes brings with it, an entirely new experience. Beautiful guitar arrangements accompanied by fervent percussion drums drive the song during its high moments while softly-strummed guitars and minimal drum kicks occupy its more solemn moments, as Elena sings, “If you leave, when I go… You’ll find me in the shallows”. Possibly the song that spawned the album title and rather fittingly too, “Shallows” is the final soundtrack to the depressing breakdown but is an amazing song and If You Leave is a astoundingly amazing record in the same vein.
If You Leave, which is co-produced by the band’s guitarist Igor Haefeli, Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Adele) and Jolyon Vaughan Thomas (Maps, Gavin Friday), is more than a brilliant debut record from Daughter, it is flawless. Everything on this record works and works exceptionally well, from Elena’s forthright and disheartening lyrics to her vocal dexterities that compel you to hold on to her every word to the rich and unquestionable musical milieu over which she empties herself for our listening privilege.
Daughter’s debut album If You leave is out on March 18 via 4AD and on April 30 in the US via Glassnote Records, you can – and should – purchase it HERE. Daughter is also performing at Rough Trade East on March 19 before embarking on an European tour in April and a tour of America in May, you can purchase tickets via any of these concert ticket portals: Songkick // Ticketmaster // Daughter Live