Daughter - If You Leave
Fanciful thoughts spring into my head as the music comes to life. This sad, ghostly voice and the chilling melodies form a perfect accompaniment to images of gnarled, leafless trees, casting shadows of malevolent beasts as the rain drums on the windowpanes ...
If You Leave, debut album from London trio Daughter, is like trying to see the world through the ice of a frozen lake. The images ripple and change, blurry and indistinct. Elena Tonra's soft voice skates through the brooding melodies. Though the songs are at times indistinguishable, bleeding in and out of one another, their power grows with each listen. The titles say it all: 'Winter', 'Smother', 'Still', 'Lifeforms', 'Touch', 'Shallows' - this is an eerie, stark album full of dark corners and bad dreams.
'Winter' staggers to life with Tonra's voice drifting in. 'Smother' with the soft guitar accompaniment is gentle and sweet, with its subject of unrequited love: "I want all that is not mine / I want him but we're not right." 'Youth' and 'Still' begin as gentle folk songs, then burst into life in a cacophony of guitar feedback. 'Tomorrow' and 'Human' are unsettling, like a dream that begins to fade as soon as you open your eyes. In 'Human', Tonra seems to want to break free from the prison of her body: "Underneath this skin there's a human / Buried deep within there's a human / Despite everything I'm still human / But I think I'm dying here." The upbeat tempo seems almost to scorn the existential crisis she is battling with. This unease continues with the heartbreak of 'Touch', which sounds like a ghost longing for human form ("I can't stand to be so dead behind the eyes"), and the disturbing restlessness of 'Amsterdam', which sees Tonra repeating the refrain "by the morning I will have grown back".
If You Leave needs a few listens before its magic weaves its spell. Delicate and melancholy, it will make you want to sleep with the covers over your head, yet you'll return to its icy chills again and again.