Daughter: Not To Disappear | Virgin Media
Daughter: Not To Disappear

Daughter: Not To Disappearby Ian Gittins | Rating: ★★

15/01/2016Music

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Some artists are so audibly besotted with music that has gone before that your heart bleeds for them when they are unable to scale similar creative heights. London trio Daughter were always going to end up on 4AD Records. Their fragile, gossamer pop is transparently and painfully in thrall to giants from the label's peerless, glorious history: the alien swoon of Cocteau Twins, the labyrinthine majesty of Dead Can Dance, the emotional ferment of Throwing Muses.

Yet arriving three years after their debut, If You Leave, Not To Disappear (and even the title is too bald) reproduces that valiant but limited record's failings. Awash with FX pedals, acres of reverb, elegiac electronica and beyond-the-grave whispers, it yearns for significance and profundity yet invariably falls short.

One problem is that the album is so ponderously one-paced. With the exception of the unexpected, jittery No Care, every track is a mournful, mannered tiptoe around the balefully bleak psyche of singer Elena Tonra. Her angst verges on self-parody: "Then I'll lose my children, then I'll lose my love, then I'll sit in silence…" she exhales on Doing The Right Thing.

There is little tension, no light and shade

How is all shimmers of desolate, diaphanous guitar, echoing as if stroked by a celestial hand in a cavernous abyss, yet still it inspires not awe but ennui. Producer and guitarist Igor Haefeli describes their music as "fragile Jenga" yet in truth it is too inert and static to merit this simile. There is little tension, no light and shade: nothing tumbles.

The hiccupping beats, layered vocals and emotional desolation of Alone/With You could be an outtake from Björk's Vulnicura album, if only Tonra were remotely possible of such volcanic extremes of emotion and expression. Instead, by the tepid Fossa she is sighing, "I feel numb". She is not the only one.