Daughters : You Won’t Get What You Want
Before Daughters‘ unceremonious end in 2009—just ahead of the release of their outstanding posthumous self-titled swan song—the Rhode Island noise-rock outfit specialized in an extreme, abrasive sound that gave their music a certain confrontational quality. Their music had melody, and those who cared to look beyond the aggression and dissonance would certainly find that there were hooks beneath the metallic shrieks. But Daughters never made music that aimed to please; if people liked it, they liked it, but that always seemed secondary to the band’s aims.
That doesn’t seem to have changed much with the release of You Won’t Get What You Want, their long-awaited new album and first new music in eight years. The name itself seems to be a cheeky reference to any possible expectations anyone might have after eight years—expectations, it’s worth reiterating, of an underground band specializing in pigfuck brutality and piercing, effects-drenched guitar squeals. The band’s audience has grown considerably since their initial split, however, and newcomers to their ominous, technical grind likely will come to this album expecting a continuation of their menacing dissonance. What they get, instead, is an album of impressive breadth, their scrapes and shrieks mere building blocks toward a more complex and stunningly layered set of dark industrial rock.
Daughters gave some warning that they had transformed into a much different band with the release of the album’s first single, “Satan in the Wait.” A haunting, seven-minute dirge, “Satan” balances pummeling rhythms with a more delicate and dreamy guitar treatment that sounds almost orchestral in nature—Daughters always filtered their instruments through effects for the sake of a kind of technological ambiguity, but this is the first time that the result has been pretty. The same can’t necessarily be said of “City Song,” the album’s leadoff track, though it’s still leagues apart from where the band was in the mid-’00s; ominous, lurching and spacious, it’s as terrifying as the band has ever sounded without erupting into their signature violence. And on “The Reason They Hate Me,” they’ve even taken on a hook-laden accessibility that a band of their ilk seemingly never would have embraced a decade ago; it’s still utterly horrifying—complete with Alexis Marshall’s David Yow-like barks of “Don’t tell me how to do my job, you gimme-gimme son of a bitch!“—but you can dance to it.
In the album’s midsection, there are a number of songs that nod to the torturous pummel of early Daughters material, such as “The Lord’s Song” and “The Flammable Man,” but those are the clear outliers among a landscape of adventurous and truly weird textural mayhem. And that’s for the best, considering it’s in the sprawling dirges such as “Ocean Song,” eerie slow burners like “Daughter” and punchy horror-scapes like “Long Road No Turns” where the band reveal the level of growth they’ve undergone. For comparison, the band’s debut album Canada Songs is actually one-quarter the length of this album, which goes to show that Daughters aren’t just on a linear progression, but a hemispherical one. Daughters once had the power to stun, now they’re focused on creating music that consumes.
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.