Daughters are hard to nail down. Starting out as ostensibly a grindcore outfit, they have evolved with every release and now find themselves as something of an experimental art-noise group. It’s a fascinating journey to delve in to, and if you give the band’s work your attention, you reap veritable rewards.
With their latest album, the first in eight years, Daughters have once again seen a change of pace. Sounding like a set of irate men smashing up synthesisers, it’s a tremendously difficult record. Softly delivered, spine-chilling vocals overlay the cacophony of destructive electronics. It’s haunting and angry, yet has moments of delicate reflexivity.
The album opens with City Song, a five-minute descent into oblique anxiety. Slowly rumbling low end builds to a crescendo whilst punctuated by a jump-scare inducing snare, all with Alexis Marshall’s almost spoken word delivery brining a sanguine quality reminiscent of Nick Cave or latter day Leonard Cohen. The following two tracks, Long Road, No Turns and Satan In The Wait both employ a similarly bleak fashion to their predecessor. There’re elements of the electronic of Throbbing Gristle mixed with the impending sense of doom of Swans here to sink your teeth into.
By the fourth song, The Flammable Man, the album changes pace. The most radio friendly song – bear in mind that’s a relative term – on the record, it goes from a creeping sense of nauseating fear to an all-out aural assault. If ever insanity could be captured in a piece of music, this would be it. It’s a painful listening experience, but the one with the most melody in its atonality. If the previous songs were the feeling of an enigmatic figure stood behind you, only apparent by a cold breath of the nape of your neck, then this is all those fears come to life.
The rest of the album ebbs and flows between a sinister sense of dread and a barraging cacophony of white noise. That feeling of the stranger come attacker never leaves you, and it remains spine-tinglingly prescient for the duration. The only break in the album’s typical sound comes in the pornographic sensibility of Less Sex. A groovy sliding guitar line punctuates this funk influenced number, but still has the effect of making your skin crawl. Even the bleak nature of the album’s title and artwork should be enough to set you on edge, let alone the content within.
This is a tremendously challenging album. If you give it all your time and attention it will pay dividends. Allow time for mental gestation, as it is guaranteed to stick with you. Going at it by half measures will yield nothing. It’s an album filled with terrifying soundscapes and a grisly, drawling vocal performance to the point of full-fledged horror. This is the most unsettling album you’ll hear all year. You’ll fall in love with it, but may not necessarily like it. It’s a complex, harrowing head trip of an experience. It’s sonic Stockholm Syndrome.