Sometimes I’m amazed at how quickly my previously trenchant opinions can be overturned in an instant. When Daughter made the Blog Sound longlist at the end of last year (for the second time running) I described their track Medicine as being “not too offensive” and went about my business without giving them a second thought.
Skip forward a couple of months and their track Human was made available as iTunes’ ‘Single of the Week’, which I dutifully downloaded almost on autopilot. Before hearing the end of the second verse I’d already pre-ordered the album, If You Leave, and begun writing a gushing review of Human.
If You Leave is not a radically new sound, and nor is it full of invention and originality. If you threw Foals-circa-Spanish Sahara and first-album-XX into a blender with an acoustic guitar or two, the overall tone of If You Leave would most likely be the result. What sets this record head and shoulders above the mere sum of it’s influences is the sheer quality of the work on display.
From the production to the performances to the songwriting to the beautiful gatefold cover art, everything about this LP is masterful. The aesthetic – sparse, haunting, and occasionally bellicose – is not the only thing at work here; where their predecessors bury one or two singles and a whole lot of filler in their sound, Daughter hit the mark with every single song on this record.
The overarching mood is never disturbed, but there’s variation aplenty as the album progresses. What’s most impressive, amid a host of impressive features, is the ability Daughter have to turn on a dime and transform what at first sounded like a simple acoustic number into a life-affirming bombastic showpiece.
In the month or so since the 12” landed on my doormat I’ve listened to at least one song from this album every single day, and more often than not listening to one track leads to yet another listen of the LP in its entirety. Daughter have created a masterpiece with If You Leave, and if there’s a better album released this year I’ll be very surprised indeed.