Daughters invites you to stare into the abyss

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Understandably, Daughters might seem grating or plainly unlistenable to those without much exposure to or interest in post-punk.  (Facebook/Daughters)

Understandably, Daughters might seem grating or plainly unlistenable to those without much exposure to or interest in post-punk. (Facebook/Daughters)

The room is dark and you are alone, pissed off at something you can’t fix, disgusted by the people around you and the world they so painlessly navigate. Hopelessness is a wasteland and it has a soundtrack, a sound embodied by Daughters.

This is not to be confused with Daughter, the quirky-gone-pallid indie folk group from England known for their credit-rolling clichés and emotional nonstarters that tug ever so gently at your heartstrings. Daughters, note the plural, rips your heart out of your chest cavity and plays the strings like Johnny Ramone blitzed on amphetamines. While many artists’ lyrics speak to feelings of loneliness, rejection and so on, none attempt to sonically embody those feelings with such brazen hedonic disregard as Daughters does.

Despite a tumultuous start with constant fighting amongst band members, numerous dissolutions, a few haitises and an ever-changing roster, the group managed to put out a trio of full-length albums between 2003 and 2010, each release sounding like the work of an entirely different band. Their first release, “Canada Songs,” is one I’d like to forget, which shouldn’t be too difficult considering it’s only 11 minutes long. At the time, lead singer Alexis Marshall had recently left the now defunct band As the Sun Sets, whose sound could only be described as an indecipherable cacophony of high-pitched screaming and whiplash guitar, before forming Daughters with a couple of his old bandmates. However, he was clearly not ready to leave his grindcore past behind him as it was regrettably more of the same headache on “Canada Songs.”

The following two releases, “Hell Songs” in 2006 and “Daughters” in 2010, featured Marshall opting for a more audible and distinct speaking tone of voice. Drummers and guitarists came and went as Daughters was plagued by interpersonal drama, ultimately struggling to find any semblance of a consistent vision. However, there were glimpses of brilliance on their eponymous album with more ambitious song structures, i.e. lasting longer than 30 seconds. But, fans were left guessing as the band formally broke up in 2010.

It was a work in progress that would end up taking eight years to resolve. In some ways, it was the most profitable decision they could have made. It left those following the band’s progression anxiously awaiting any news of a possible return and made their 2018 release of “You Won’t Get What You Want” their most widely-heard music yet. Luckily, it was a far cry from 2003.

Ironically, their most anti-commercial, middle-finger project – stated blatantly in the title – became their biggest and most successful production. The most striking feature of “You Won’t Get What You Want” is its fullness. The contrasting ambient and eerie droning industrial textures both terrify and excite. The lyrics, poetic and minimalistic, read like depraved short stories written by a man clinging to the final sinews of his sanity. Lines like, “There’s a sure rope swinging, without a head in its jaws/It’s waiting/There’s a war” exemplify the constant and nagging mental struggle. It is also one of the more straightforward instances of the bleak worldview Daughters espouses.

Understandably, Daughters might seem grating or plainly unlistenable to those without much exposure to or interest in post-punk, somewhat-experimental music, but I urge you to give it a fair chance. Maybe not when you want something spunky to keep you going on your sunny morning run, but whatever the opposite of that is. When you’re feeling that, put it on.


Mitchell Clark is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at mitchell.clark@uconn.edu.

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