If You Leave by Daughter
On the bubble of the Top 10, here’s English trio Daughter to darken and depress your day. Igor Haefeli plays soundscapes and rolling hills of notes on his guitar. Drummer Remi Aguilella builds the excitement with well-timed, sparse, tribal-like percussion. And lead singer / songwriter Elena Tonra, with her diminutive frame and whisper-like voice, makes the band feel somewhat like that older dog at the pound that you just can’t resist taking home to give some proper love. Tonra plays a guitar in the band as well, her pad-of-the-fingers picking creates notes that are the perfect counterpart to Haefeli’s sonic chorus.
The band suffers from the Sigur Rós Malady, where each song starts off super quiet and builds to a crescendo, a cacophony of sound that’s as exciting and energetic as a lightning storm. And that’s not the only thing they have in common with the band from Iceland. I got to see Daughter play at Neumos back in May, which is when I discovered that Haefeli plays his guitar with a bow, just like Jónsi does. In my review of the show, I summed up Tonra’s voice thusly:
Tonra’s voice is the most beautiful whisper you’ll ever hear, both quiet and pitch perfect, subdued just enough to make everyone in the audience lean, actively working to not miss that one amazing tone we know is coming. Tonra doesn’t appear to suffer from stage fright — she’s not one to put her back to us — but all other signs point to her being a new kind of Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, in poise and stage presence. Tonra’s stunning vocal range is in the higher registers (unlike Cat Power), but her style of singing intimate songs of breakup and heartache is a perfect match.
The encore of that performance was one for the ages, but unfortunately they played a song you won’t find on the album:
The band played a good array of songs from all three recorded works, and when they finally left the stage after their most well-known song, “Youth,” I got the impression there would be no encore. What could they possibly play, as we’d heard everything we expected to hear? After we gave our best, longest, loudest cheers, the band did indeed come back out on stage, to play the one song I’d heard before and expected them to not play: a cover of Daft Punk’s brand new single “Get Lucky.” When they played the song in late April on BBC One, I’ll admit I listened to it many many times on repeat. So much so that now, when I hear the original Daft Punk version, it sounds like a cover of the Daughter version. Hearing their cover live on stage at Neumos was the perfect capper for the evening.
You may be thinking it’s impossible that there could be ten albums better than this one that came out this year. Just wait and see, the best is yet to come!
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14. The Next Day by David Bowie
15. Reflektor by Arcade Fire
16. We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic by Foxygen
17. Lanters by Son Lux
18. Howlin’ by Jagwar Ma
19. Impersonator by Majical Cloudz
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22. Phantogram by Phantogram
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29. Shaking the Habitual by The Knife
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31. Let’s Be Still by The Head and the Heart