In 2013, a London-based three-piece band called Daughter released the third single from their debut album—a wistful, ambient tribute to the trials of young adulthood, fittingly entitled “Youth.” Three years later, it remains their most well known song, an encapsulation of the sonic landscape and lyrical themes of their debut, If You Leave. Their most recent record, Not to Disappear, released on January 15 through 4AD, may not be a large departure lyrically from the band’s debut—most songs deal with similar themes of loss, heartbreak and dysfunctional relationships—but frontwoman Elena Tonra and co. have clearly taken the next step in developing their unique sound.
Not to Disappear opens with the atmospheric, trip hop-infused “New Ways,” one of the band’s strongest tracks to date. The song culminates at its bridge, as Tonra confesses her need to leave a relationship long past its expiration date (“I’m trying to get out/find a subtle way out/not just cross myself out/not just disappear”).
Other highlights include lead single “Doing the Right Thing,” which masterfully evokes the desperation and frustration of losing a parent to dementia, and the percussion driven, Coldplay-esque “How.” Not to Disappear is most interesting when it sounds nothing like its predecessor. The rollicking, up-tempo “No Care” deviates substantially from the band’s acoustic-heavy debut, and as a long-time fan, it’s fascinating to hear what they are capable of when they take risks with their established, signature sound.
More ambitious than If You Leave, yet faithful to its origins, Not to Disappear finds Daughter expanding their sound as Elena Tonra becomes more confident claiming her place in the industry as an accomplished, exceedingly gifted songwriter.