Album Review Daughter - If You Leave

Arresting and dramatic.

Following on from a pair of well-received EPs in ‘The Young Heart’ and ‘The Wild Youth’, the London three-piece have set themselves up rather nicely for a full-scale assault on the nation’s ears for their debut record. A quick look at the credits for ‘If You Leave’ reveal they aren’t mucking about, either. With the record featuring production input from the likes of Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Adele) and Ken Thomas (M83, Sigur Ros) the ingredients are certainly there for a stellar first full-length, but have they pulled it off?

Early tracks such as album-opener ‘Winter’ and ‘Youth’ demonstrate Daughter’s ability to take the minimalism of plaintive guitars and Elena Tonra’s breathy vocals, and via the addition of some mortar-shell drums and a healthy dose of songwriting nous turn it into something altogether more arresting and dramatic. That’s not to say the album’s devoid of reflective, quieter and downright beatific moments, though – in the likes of ‘Still’ ‘Lifeforms’ and ‘Human’ it’s got them in spades - but undoubtedly accomplished as they are they never quite grab the listener’s attention or live up to the promise of the earlier, more dynamic offerings although the album-closing ‘Shadows’ comes pretty close.

‘If You Leave’ is undoubtedly a highly polished, ambitious and well-considered out first-time effort. On repeated listen you can identify a plethora of well-regarded influences: the maudlin guitar lines of Arab Strap, the hazy melodicism of Trailer Trash Tracys, the nocturnal urban aura of Massive Attack, the subtle, soaring melodies of M83. Add in a genuine sense of individuality and on paper everything looks rosy. But while all the elements are there it seems far too eager to drift into not only the background but also into itself, with it turning into musical wallpaper and into one, long indistinguishable track with worrying ease. It’s this which take a record that could’ve been filed under ‘brilliant’ and drag it down to merely being good instead.


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