By Andrew Willoughby
The evolution of Providence industrial/noise-rock outfit Daughters has been one of the most interesting and exciting in recent rock music.
The band’s 2003 debut, “Canada Songs,” was a fast and chaotic grindcore album, which featured the run-of-the-mill high-pitched screamed vocals that were all too common for the genre. Where it stood out, though, was the instrumentation. The screeching and frantic metallic guitars put Daughters on the map and would go on to be one of the mainstays of the band’s ever-changing style.
Their sophomore effort, 2006’s “Hell Songs,” ditched frontman Alex Marshall’s generic grindcore vocals for a half-spoken, half-shouted style akin to industrial acts such as The Jesus Lizard and Nick Cave. The “Hell Songs” were more focused and longer than their previous album’s 30-second- to one-minute-long vignettes.
From there, the band’s 2010 self-titled record introduced an ever-so-slight helping of pop into their industrial chaos. This led to some of the band’s most memorable melodies such as on “The Hit” and “Our Queens (One Is Many, Many Are One).”
Finally, eight years later, Daughters returns with another drastic sonic shift and their longest record to date – “You Won’t Get What You Want.”
The album maintains a perfect balance of the types of songs fans have likely grown to expect from Daughters and some wholly experimental ones, as the band dabbles with elements of post-rock and a surprising new batch of influences.
The opening track, “City Song,” introduces the album with an ambient electronic drone accompanied by blown-out drum blast beats over which Marshall repeats the mantra, “This city is an empty glass.”
That’s a theme of this album – repetition. Taking a page out of Swan’s book – a clear new influence on “You Won’t Get What You Want” – many of these songs feature a single riff that is repeated over and over as the surrounding instrumentation builds in urgency, distortion, and depth.
This is the case with “Long Road, No Turns,” which builds up to one of Daughters’ most intense climaxes before collapsing, leaving only the sound of static and a sinister detuned guitar progression.
Marshall channels his inner Leonard Cohen on “Less Sex,” the album’s halfway point and the first time Daughters has implemented a traditional sung vocal style. It works wonderfully and amplifies the record’s already haunting tone.
In an interview with Ipecac Recordings, drummer Jon Syverson posed the question, “How do we turn this band back on [after eight years] and have it do justice to the body of work we’ve had?”
After almost a decade, the answer to his question is clear – drawing from new influences. The Swans and Cohen influences do nothing but improve upon the sound Daughters has already developed.
The band has never released two albums that sound the same, yet the stylistic changes they’ve made have never been out of character. That’s the brilliance of Daughters – they never start over. They take every opportunity to build upon what they’ve already created – they’re always changing, but they’re always Daughters.
Flexibility and forward momentum are direly important if a band wants to remain relevant. Recording albums that sound the same over and over again would end up pleasing nobody.
Daughters understands this better than nearly any other band right now, and as a result, “You Won’t Get What You Want” has turned out to be one of the best and most refreshing albums of 2018.
I’m not going to make a “because of Daughters, you’ll get what you want” joke... But I just did.