To say it’s been a busy year for Daughter would be a massive understatement. The release of The Wild Youth EP is her third release in a year (the first, a collection of demos may not be recognised as ‘official’, but has certainly made an impact to the extent that lead track ‘Run’ can even be heard playing in branches of Top Shop).
For those who have been following the development of the solo artist (real name Elena Tonra), the past 12 months have seen a distinct development in her sound. Early songs such as ‘In the Shallows’ and ‘Run’ featured minimal production, with the focus very much settled on the delicate intricacies of Tonra’s vocals and the sweet simplicity of the accompanying acoustic guitar. Her latest collection of songs build upon the ambient ideas first explored in short bursts on the mostly acoustic tracks on previous release His Young Heart, which dedicated an entire track (‘Switzerland’) to lengthy synth chords and layered vocal sounds.
In fact, so far has Daughter’s sound moved on from her initial demos that, if it were not for that oh-so-distinct voice and songwriting character, that you might mistake her music for someone else’s. From the impatient tick tock clicks of the percussion in opener Home to the bombastic drums in the final moments of ‘Youth’, Tonra has decided to express aggressive ideas in swathes of production techniques, the acoustic ideas swapped for clean electric guitars and synths that reverberate so heavily one could be forgiven for getting lost in them – this is a collection that demands to be listened to at full volume, in the dark. On occasion, Tonra dispenses with the drama to speak more plainly – one free from the lo-fi effect – to drive her most thoughtful points home; ‘And if you’re in love, then you are the lucky one. Because most of us are bitter over someone.’ she sings on ‘Youth’, before summoning her drums for backup and announcing, ‘And you caused it’. For the most part this experimentation is successful, but certain moments, such as the crunchy synth motif introduced at the end of Love feels unnecessary and jars with the sentiments of the song, even if it is about being pissed off with a former lover and his latest conquest.
If you’ve not listened to Daughter yet, I’d recommend giving The Wild Youth a listen without delay. Next year belongs to her – if she does choose to take a commercial path, her recordings will certainly change drastically, acquiring the polish expected of even the most ‘indie’ chart acts. Even then, she’ll have one of the most unique sounds in the pop landscape today.
Words: Frankie Ward