Daughters, never a band to play it understated, returns as a beast both transformed and reborn in the Rhode Island quartet’s first release since a pseudo “break-up” around 2009/2010 – You Won’t Get What You Want, out last week via Ipecac. It’s not immediately a satiating bit of consumption but it certainly grows inside you like a virus; first spin and you’re writing off the landscape as too self-consciously atmospheric or constructed, five spins later, you’re listening to the same track (say, “Daughter,” which has Bauhaus implications) over and over and over again. Bizarrely appealing.
While Daughters’ adrenaline-fueled racket-raising has been replaced here in many respects by vampy, Birthday Party-esque textures and moods, though, don’t think for a second the group still doesn’t stomp and bark and bite. The single “Satan In The Wait,” which, in July, announced the arrival of the new record, is furious and almost dirgy in its determination to pound refrains into your ears. (Elsewhere, singer Alexis S.F. Marshall keeps a Falling Down directness or an unexpected calm about him while, sonically, the world just falls apart around him, shades of Joey Karam.) But these aren’t even the most vicious things on the LP — though you’ve got to hand it to guitarist Nicholas Andrew Sadle for the scathing and newly dimensional guitar work at its bedrock.
“The Lord’s Song” and “The Flammable Man,” which crank up the BPM with a kind of post-industrial abandon, just plain roar but “Less Sex,” on the other end of things, burbles low-octane and lurches forward menacingly, complete with extensive synth washes and black-eyeliner-moodiness – this is miles away from the post-hardcore abandon of Canada Songs. Daughters, though, still is at its best in its new phoenix form when it thrashes melodramatically, The Locust crossed with Tub Ring or Six Finger Satellite at its most reckless. On “The Reason They Hate Me” and parts of “Daughter,” the band even sounds like some Bizarro-world Brainiac, God bless ‘em, laying shrieking, dissonant figures over Marshall’s spoken sing-song or punkish wails. It’s a more nuanced, even – dare I say – subtle, approach to the material than the blistering work for which these guys first became known.
The songs that keeps tripping me up, though, are “Guest House,” a measured explosion in the teeth, and “Ocean Song,” which darts between the record’s typical Horror House palette, locked grooves, and moments of eerie silence. Plenty of bands play with the loud/soft/loud dynamic – in some respects and in some corners, it’s a tired trope – but, here, Daughters reveals more of an attention to details than it did in its previous incarnation. It’s a pleasant surprise for a band that didn’t, last time around, always get its due or always excel at moments not cranked up to 11. And, now, they’ve got new scars on their heart to unburden.