"Did I ever show you that book he made me?"
If you're looking for an audio pick me up this winter season, turn away now. However, if you're the sorta soul who likes to wallow in all the complexities of human nature and the pain we cause each over, grab a baggy jumper and prepare for a treat.
For the past six odd years, 4AD's Daughter has made a name for themselves with their brand of melancholic indie folk. Thanks to their expansive instrumentation and Elena Tonra's unflinching lyrics, the three-piece have gone from strength to strength, even bagging a video game soundtrack for Deck Nine's acclaimed 'Life Is Strange: Before The Storm'.
Now Tonra has struck it out alone to do what all real artists must. The breakup album. Like any of us suddenly left adrift post-relationship, these songs are looking for answers, reasons, and are painfully over analysing the past. However, this isn’t your usual he/she said affair. On Ex:Re the lost love acts as an almost spectral presence, coloring the song's themes.
Teaming up with 4AD’s ‘in-house wizard’ Fabian Prynn, the album is certainly blue in mood, forgoing some of Daughter’s more rock indebted edges. Tracks such as ‘Liar’ have a brilliant trip-hop element, hypotonic bassline and sparse drum work combining together for great atmospheric effect.
Highlight 'The Dazzler' manages to capture the depressing possibilities of hotel life, and acts as a series of aching and intimate vignettes on heartbreak. '5AM', the shortest of the ten tracks, similarly balances everyday imaginary and more poetic flourishes before building to a Post Punk guitar outro.
'I Can't Keep You' provides a much needed pick me up, not lyrically of course, but its catchy lo-fi stomp is a breath of fresh air in a sea of sorrow. Channeling a certain Mr. Buckley, finale 'My Heart' strips things back to just a vocal and reverbed guitar to give listeners a truly intimate moment of contemplation. A clever move and one the ends this journey with just a glimmer of hope.
While there isn't always a tonne sonically to separate this from Tonra's day job, it must be applauded for its brutal honesty and moments of pure poetry. As she says herself, 'This album was made out of devastation’. Ain’t that the truth.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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