Noise-rock luminaries Daughters have a somewhat choppy history. While musically they’ve always delivered, along the way there have been personal bust-ups between members that essentially broke up the band. Prior to their dissolution, they had completed their third record (which was released post-breakup in 2010) and that well received self-titled release, to all intents and purposes, should have been the last we heard of them. Yet eight years later, following a reconciliation, Daughters have made the record of their career.
Since 2003’s economic Canada there has been an exponential growth in the track length of Daughters songs. On You Won’t Get What You Want the compositions have swelled further still, and the longer form serves the breadth of their undertaking well. The deliberate build of opener City Song features whiplash beats, and emotionless semi-spoken vocal, and pained yelps that cry out in the background, which carefully lay the foundations of suspense for a terrifying climax. Straight out of the blocks You Won’t Get What You Want proves a darkly compulsive record.
The record frequently feels like an exercise in rubbernecking and one that exploits our innate morbid curiosity. Daughters touch on classic horror tropes throughout while creating something unique in the process. Long Road No Turns has shades of the Bernard Hermann school of histrionics, and Daughter features midway keys that echo a John Carpenter-line of spine-chilling anxiety. Although the band regularly touch on easily readable cultural signifiers, it’s also an unpredictable record.
The unexpected bright beauty the keys on Long Road No Turn provide curdle with claustrophobic drama and merely deepen the tension within. The generally sludgy gait of the record is upended by Lord’s Song, which picks up the tempo and batters already tattered nerves. The levels of asphyxiating anxiety reached by its conclusion are answered with Alexis SF Marshall’s seductive timbre on Less Sex. But even that smooth resonance is coloured by the creepily submissive lyrics.
The Reason They Hate Me illustrates a certain musical comradeship with chief agitators Big Black and their nihilistic machinations via repetitive metallic motifs and lyrical irreverence. Yet the apex of the record’s dizzying drama is Ocean Song. Over its seven-and-a-half-minute running time Daughters summon a kind of Wagnerian grandeur that a record of this intensity demands in order to fully satisfy the jittery suspense that precedes it. But don’t expect the final song to offer any sort of post-catharsis comfort, save the levity of the bright outro; Guest House concludes the record with Marshall’s distraught cries of “knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking/let me in!”
Records like this suggest rock has a long and illustrious future ahead of it, and that in some instances the creative well is far from dry. With Halloween on the horizon, Daughters have provided a soundtrack to satisfy our ghoulish intrigue with a rare beast that is both thrilling and wholly singular. Yet, however darkly disturbing You Won’t Get What You Want is at times, its matchless quality elicits awe and wonder, and strangely, that brilliance provides a surprising and curious warmth.