Indie-folk band Daughter released their debut album If You Leave on 18 March 2013. As soon as the eagerly anticipated record hit the shelves, it immediately became apparent that it is not an ease-you-in-gently creation.
Angsty themes of pain, loss and heartache shroud the album in shadows. These are popular subjects with Daughter – their preceding EP’s were only slightly more upbeat.
His Young Heart was released in April 2011, when the band was a duo consisting of vocalist Elena Tonra and her guitarist boyfriend, Igor Haefeli. They had met only six months previously at a song writing class in North London, but Tonra had reportedly grown listless with her solo performances and so joined forces with Haefeli to create the early works of Daughter.
By the time the second EP, The Wild Youth was released in October 2011, drummer Remi Aguilella had entered the band. A drummers’ addition to the line-up took the brooding, haunting music heard on the first record into a slightly more gentle-rock fuelled territory, but still with the uncannily emotive lyricism that Tonra should be applauded for. Their updated sound of this second EP consequently drew much attention to Daughter, resulting in new music aficionado, BBC radio presenter Huw Stephens, inviting them into the prestigious Maida Vale music studios to perform a session for his Radio 1 show.
Following this, in early 2012 Daughter announced they had been signed to highly regarded record label 4AD, an independent British company known for catapulting acts such as Bon Iver and Iron & Wine to acoustic alternative-scene successes.
The first two singles from their debut album If You Leave have been met with critical acclaim – both Smother and Still are poignantly penned ballads, creating a beautifully depressing ambience that paints a picture of the bands excellence to prospective fans; despite their lack of stereotypical commercial appeal, both tracks were picked to feature on the exclusive playlists of both Radio 1 and 6music.
Luckily, the rest of the 10-track album follows suit. The expert lyricism of Youth provokes nostalgia-born goosebumps and compels you to make the most of your life – it is fitting, therefore, that it was featured on television advertisements for both the Tour De France and Norwegian regional airline company Widerøe.
Lifeforms is quietly powerful; Tonra’s simplistic singing style provides a refreshing change from the lick-heavy vocals of most female artists. Its varying instrumental intensity creates an unnerving sense of unease. This unease is also present in Touch, but this time due to the incredible relatable quality of the song; the only track based on how we antagonize our inner selves (as opposed to the rest of the record detailing how heartache is imposed upon you by other people), it fills you with a burning desire to scream ‘I know exactly how you feel!’.
Banishing dreams of fairytale endings, If You Leave provides an uncomfortable reminder of the all-consuming pain of losing love. Although perhaps too bleak to listen to in any other circumstance, the trio has gifted us with a mesmerizing, make-yourself-cry breakup album. You can purchase Daughter’s fascinating debut on iTunes now, courtesy of 4AD records.