Tuesday, June 25, 2013

If You Leave | Daughter

Daughter is a trio that's relatively new to the indie scene, having only released a few EPs before their debut LP, If You Leave, an album that proves to be just as sullen as the title.

Daughter's music is led by Elena Tonra's relaxing vocals, a series of lazy guitar lines (I'm calling it lazy in a good, peaceful way), and peculiar lyrics. The lyrics on this album are quite different than any other, which is sometimes refreshing and interesting, but other times a flaw. It depends on the song. But one thing that a few songs on this album do well is ending with the most personal, sad-sounding lyric, which almost guarantees to leave some sort of impact.

The introductory track is called "Winter," and though the lyrics of this song are still quite different than one may be used to, it still sets itself apart from the other tracks on If You Leave because as "Winter" goes on, they're set up like the type of poetry with bits of one to three-word lines forming large stanzas, but it doesn't flow as nicely. Instead, it's a little more chaotic, sometimes rhyming but not always. In this song, I like that the lyrical meaning isn't so in your face but isn't too randomized. As a whole, "Winter" captures a lot of what I love about melancholy indie music. The music formulates some sort of real-life intensity. 
That feeling still takes precedence in the song "Youth," which is one of my favorites, along with "Winter." It drew me in right away, especially when the music picks up after the lyrics "the lovers that went wrong." I love that blend of light guitar and heavy piano, and the chord progression is perfect.

A couple of other tracks that stood out to me include "Lifeforms" and "Smother." While the guitars of "Lifeforms" sound very dreamy right away, it's not the whole song that I'm in love with. At first the lyrics are a little odd and don't seem to flow with each other or with the music, but it's much better in the chorus, which is the prettiest part of the track. Though the lyrics of "Smother" are still written in an unusual way, I find no flaw with the way they're assembled in this particular song. They even tugged at my heart strings a bit at the end.

Really, I can't help but appreciate the uniqueness of the lyrics of If You Leave when they don't have an awkward feel, but sometimes the flow just isn't right between the words and the vocal line itself. This is evident in the song "Tomorrow," though I did enjoy the instrumentation when it picks up towards the middle, leading into the end.

But more than anything, if there's anything I can say about If You Leave is that it's quite gloomy, which I don't mind, but I don't think I've ever found an album quite as openly bleak as this. The only remotely upbeat track on the entire album is "Human," which wasn't bad at all. "Still" is also a bit less bleak than the other songs, but the lyrics were so repetitive and I couldn't really see the point. Hence, anyone looking for something happy and bouncy shouldn't pick up this album.

Still, although Daughter displays an incredible potential to make quality music on this debut LP, they still have their work cut out for them. If You Leave has a fair share of moving moments, but there's a lack of experimentation; quite a few of the songs blend together in my mind. If they'd break out of their box a little and fixed the occasional vocal line and lyrical clashes, they could completely win me over. Until then, I can only recommend a few songs from them and not this entire album.

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