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If You Leave
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If You Leave was recorded over a period of months at home and in various spaces across London by Daughter trio Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli and Remi Aguilella. Production was overseen by Igor with additional production from Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Adele) and Jolyon Vaughan Thomas (Maps), and mixed by Ken Thomas (Sigur Ros, M83) at High Bank Studio and mastered by Geoff Pesche at Abbey Road Studios.
Something about roses and thorns, of surface beauty masking elements more menacing. Search online a little and this is a common tact when addressing the music of London-based trio Daughter.
And with good reason: theirs is a sound instantly enchanting of design. But the somewhat quaint, almost-folk arrangements and Elena Tonra’s vocals – as gorgeously direct and detailed as a Matisse, complete with age-impressed cracks spider-webbing the canvas – sit atop an emotional turbulence that many would restrict to locked-tight diary pages.
Music has long been a method of catharsis, of course. But spend a few hours in the company of If You Leave and the effect is draining.
Not in a negative sense – the repeat plays logged by this writer are testament to this album’s longevity. But expect to feel almost as broken as the protagonist behind these songs’ narratives come set-closer Shallows.
Tonra doesn’t shy away from summoning deep-rooted sermons on the subject of love – most notably the aftermath of its collapse, and subsequent feelings of isolation. It’s all the listener can do to not hunt down the culprit behind her splintered heart and demand answers, such are the singer’s devastatingly succinct illustrations of romantic fallout.
“I’ve lost it all, I’m just a silhouette / I’m a lifeless face that you’ll soon forget,” is one such moment, a snapshot from Youth. Tomorrow further distances the separation by actually articulating it more intimately: “By tomorrow I’ll be left in the darkness / Amongst your cold sheets.” It’s genuinely powerful, moving stuff.
Something more sinister than relationships gone awry stirs elsewhere. “Find the children lost at sea,” Tonra sings on Lifeforms, “Find the children who discreetly / Were killed in infancy.”
Such lines bring to mind Scandinavian mythology, specifically the legend of mylings. They connect Daughter’s music, albeit in an abstract fashion, with the more arcane strands of folk that came before them.
Daughter’s generally gentle arrangements, rarely roused from a whisper to a roar – Winter features some pounding percussion; the layered, choral vocals of Smother are gorgeous – are therefore rather more engaging than many a peer’s offerings.
If You Leave is a damaged debut, then, but the way the hues of its bruises blend into each other is wholly hypnotic. It wants to love, again, but has chosen darkness.
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Top Customer Reviews
The ten songs here sit so well together it's hard to imagine them presented any other way. The song sequencing, the packaging, and that sound - a beguiling hybrid of Sigur Ros and early Suzanne Vega with a good sprinkling of Cocteau Twins 4AD-ish-ness - all serve to enhance Ellen Tonra's deeply intimate tales of love's ambiguity. And let's not forget her voice! Sultry, vulnerable, sexy, and never 'over-egged'. Perfectly judged with just enough expression to make the songs live. The emotional content of the music comes largely from Igor Haefeli's widescreen guitar motifs whether strummed, picked, or bowed, and percussionist Remi Aguilella's short-lived but powerful drum swells. "Smother" is a good example of this post-post-rock stance - three quarters of the song hang in a sublime suspension of build or fall with just a few bars of intensity at full band volume. Infact the only track here that doesn't make use of quiet/loud dynamics is "Human" which is almost 'pop', atleast by Daughter's standards.
"If You Leave" will take a few listens to get right under your skin, but once it does it's like an addiction. This is a compelling and highly accomplished debut from a band I now desperately want to see onstage.
Daughter are getting a bit of love from all around (BBC, music press etc), so next big thing? It seems so and utterly utterly deserved. Buy it!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
So glad I found out about Daughter and their beautiful music, can't stop playing 'If You Leave'. Their new recently released 'Not to Disappear' (January 2016) is wonderful too.Published 6 months ago by Sharon P