Moving on
Is moving in slow motion

To keep the pain to a minimal
Weightless, only wait for a fall.”

~How
Daughter, Not to Disappear

The ethereal elegance of Daughter is back and better than ever. I know that is a cliche thing to say, but it is true.

“Not to Disappear,” their 2016 release, is one of the most smoothing, stunning and haunting collections I’ve heard in months. Not only is Elena Tonra an incredible vocalist, with a delicate and haunting soprano, but she writes these passionate, stirring lyrics, ones that are so very affected by emotional states of being. On “Not to Disappear,” she tackles loneliness, aging, her own melancholic thoughts, and she does it in such a brash manner, unafraid of admitting her own failings and vulnerabilities without coming across as too apologetic for them.

But on this record I hear so much more than Torna’s thoughts and feelings, in a good way. The percussive echoes and delayed, climatic guitar parts prove a precise vision; the other musicians are not simply her backing band. As beautiful and moving as her poetic lyrics are in their own right, the choices made in regard to space and rhythm. Guitar breaks walk a line between atmospheric shoegaze and chord-contained punk rock, for the most part holding back aggression and letting it seep out around the edges.

There’s so many beautiful, moving moments here, the bust before the first verse in “How,” the hypnotic hums filling out the outro of “Fossa,” and the seemingly dance-inspired beats behind “Alone/With You.” Daughter does an excellent job at blending genres and sounds, creating something that is not rock, is not folk, is not emo, but draws on all of the above. Mostly I think they just represent solid, inspired songwriting, showing what it means to take and idea and a motif and keeping coloring around them. Each of these songs feels like lungs holding too much air and hearts beating out of their chests, with a profound sense of tension and emotion.

It’s weird how songs that deal with madness and sadness and self-doubt and turmoil can be this stunning, in a way. Shouldn’t those topics be uncomfortable? But I’ve always kind of believed that songs, like stories, don’t say much of anything if they don’t have a happening of some kind to speak of, and those happenings are often conflicts, either with lovers or the world or oneself. On “Not to Disappear,” Daughter tackles all those relationships with a mature curiosity, and a reckless abandon, but holds onto their emotional, meditative, core.

“Chemically enlaced faces
Black out nights and tight spaces
We’ll feel distant embraces
Scratching hands ’round my waist, yeah
I’ll wash my mouth but still taste you

I feel numb
I feel numb in this kingdom
I feel numb
I feel numb in this kingdom

You better, you better, you better
You better make me
Me better, me better
You better make me better.
~Numbers

Daughter, Not to Disappear