Elena Tonra’s work has changed dramatically from the simple, acoustic roots she established in 2010. Now forming part of the three piece Daughter, the band have taken work from previous EPs His Young Heart and The Wild Youth and transformed them in to prolonged, episodic musings on love and loneliness in the form of their new album, If You Leave.
With the shortest track coming in at just under six minutes, this is somewhat heavy yet still deeply calculated and affecting listening. Beginning with Elena’s echoing, haunting vocals on the track ‘Winter’, the tone is set lyrically for the rest of the album. From being ‘lost in the dark’ to ‘hate spitting out of each other’s mouths’ in ‘Still’, each word comes out embittered and almost overly dramatic. Despite this, Tonra’s voice offers the perfect blend of mild grit with softer depth throughout.
Resonances from previous work do still come through, if infrequently. ‘Smother’ breaks down to basic acoustic riffs, and ‘Amsterdam’ begins as such. More often than not, though, the band have progressed to rich, textured tracks that blend electric and acoustic with crashing symbols and generally stronger, more defined percussion. The ambient ‘Shallows’ bears similarity to the band Explosions in the Sky in this sense, as does ‘Lifeforms’, with intertwining, intricate riffs that build and develop, building anticipation until the end.
Without doubt, though, the album’s most engaging track comes in the form of ‘Human’. Emotional without the angry melancholia and vulnerability of much of the rest of the disc, here Tonra is defiant and assured. Although other tracks blend strong guitars with ringing drums, ‘Human’ is powerful from the off – it takes each of the album’s merits and develops them further, but remains evocative throughout.
If You Leave draws on the band’s past while moving towards more experimental, rich work and this isn’t a bad thing. There’s definitely work to be done on tightening up some of the tracks, but overall it paves the way for promising and interesting material in future. Personally, I’ll look forward to seeing what Daughter has in store for us next.By Alex Morden Osborne