Undefined Collective

Album Review

Daughters

You Won’t Get What You Want

5.0

Brian Pope

November 14, 2018

You Won't Get What You Want
In titling their new record You Won’t Get What You Want, Rhode Island quartet Daughters not only cast a clear vision for the bleak themes of their first record in eight years, but they send a message about the band’s ambitions at the macro level. The group has sought a stylistic shift when approaching every record in their discography. From the entangled noisecore of Canada Songs to the entrancing mathcore of Hell Songs to the uncompromising hellstorm that is their eponymous 2010 noise rock masterpiece, Daughters are a band that revel in the art of progression. Logically, the idea of “wanting” implies expectation, which is a presumption the band maneuvers with ease on this album. Hell, even guitarist Nick Sadler has been quoted as saying “expect not to expect anything,” and here the band forge a mature development of sound while retaining the essence of their flare. Blending the band’s affinity for buzzsaw guitars and clamoring drums with the unsettling atmospheres of industrial music, Daughters once again prove themselves to be among the most versatile and visceral rock groups in hardcore music today.
With the more muted tracks here, Daughters make a point to unnerve the listener, with ominous atmospheres that sculpt dark skies using foreboding noises and percussion rhythms. “City Song” marches these ambitions in with deadpan vocals that chant “this city is an empty glass” over wavering industrial synthesizers and bustling drums that build the bulk of the song’s dynamic range. Rhythmic whimpers and moans are speckled in as astral flecks of noise start to pepper the atmosphere, before we’re hit with waves of menacing noise. “Less Sex” begins with a subdued drum rhythm and placid vocals, granting a false sense of security before ushering in ear-shattering hits of feedback-ridden guitars on the chorus. The song expounds on themes of the prevalence of primal enjoyment of short-term pleasures over the long-term ailments of addiction, dependency, and ultimately self-destruction. The speaker seems to blame himself for permitting the entity’s entry: “I let it into my heart,” and as scratches of noise crawl up the backside of the chorus the listener is reminded of the slippery slope of being steadily consumed by one’s vices.
Just as the band is able to unsettle, their ability to terrify and incapacitate proves equally formidable. The oppressive and cacophonous “The Reason They Hate Me” is the closest the LP gets to accessible rock music, with martial guitar slides backed by mid-tempo down-strums. Opening with Alexis’s Foetus-esque shouted jeers and pummeling instrumentation, the track breaks down in the second half with some ingenious glitching of the lead guitar riff that really gives the song a volatile energy. Its brashness is intimidating to the point of bullying. “The Inflammable Man” is the closest the record comes to the group’s last seminal noise rock classic, with razor-sharp disorienting guitars and blistering drumming. The track describes a first-person narrator who has chosen a withdrawn life as a hermit to avoid the dangers of the world, met with instrumental fire and brimstone. Midsong the track cuts away and switches tempo, ending with the narrator chanting the hilarious yet daunting “is something burning in here or is it me?” which visualizes the man burning his life away by living in fear.

In admonishing the act of living in fear, the band simultaneously uses the more monolithic tracks to recreate the inescapable world in which we live, fully immersing and subsequently tormenting the listener.

In admonishing the act of living in fear, the band simultaneously uses the more monolithic tracks to recreate the inescapable world in which we live, fully immersing and subsequently tormenting the listener. The longest song here, “Ocean Song” describes a sort of panic attack, in which one is struck with an awful realization before running from the terrifying force in a dazed hysteria. The symbol of the ocean is deployed as an escape from that misery, and as the frantic character Paul grows nearer, the instrumentation begins to roar louder with shots of bellowing feedback crying out in the distance. The track ends with simmering buzzes that envisage Paul’s ocean ebbing and receding; an unattainable macrocosm. “Satan In The Wait” is defined by blaring siren-like synthesizers and plodding drums, backing agonizing poetry which tells a story of a self-destructive person who lives in the moment, without considering the consequences of his actions. Metaphors are made of the short-term relief of scratching the inside of a cast versus the damage in harming the healing process, and toasts are raised to the impending “tragedies” the man’s actions will coerce.
Even the sequencing of the tracks on this album flows without a hitch. The transition from the frenzied pandemonium of “Lord’s Song” to the Nine Inch Nails-inspired “Less Sex” invokes an imperative intermission from the insanity, with a murky, docile bass groove. The unnerving last seconds of spoken word on “City Song” burst into the discord of “Long Road” with the ferocity of a horror film’s best jump scare. The no-wave chasm of “Daughter” pairs divinely with the domineering “The Reason They Hate Me.” And all these shifts work to systematically crush the listener into submission, ending off with the brutality of the closing track serving as the coup de grâce. It becomes clear with each listen that Daughters aligned the songs tactfully according to their dynamics, and in doing so create a package paramount to its individual parts.
What conclusively makes You Won’t Get What You Want such an impeccable and impregnable record is its harmonious consummation of various tropes that noise rock and industrial rock have toiled upon for decades. Daughters are able to melt down the crazed frenzy of The Jesus Lizard, the pummeling grooves of Filth-era Swans, and the jagged guitars of Public Image Ltd. in such a way that the music mutates and forms an entirely new monster.  “Daughter” is a perfect example, with a no-wave inspired vacuum and shots of feedback which play into a daunting guitar melody that would sound comfortable on a Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds track. One can hear Glenn Branca’s “Structure” in the dissonant guitars and pounding rhythms of “Long Road, No Turns.” Throbbing Gristle provides a clear influence on the pulsating synthesizers of “City Song.” The album is an aphoristic museum for the trademarks of noise rock and industrial rock, all coming to a head to create a masterwork of its components.
All of this clockwork is displayed with aplomb on the disheartening “Lord’s Song”, with its aggrieved vocals and overbearing wall of guitars. The phenomenon of crying out to God is explored behind onslaughts of astral guitars and pulverizing drums, only for the track to end with the heartbreaking lack of response to cry on. The macabre closer “Guest House” wraps up the agonizing themes of misery and disappointment that the album’s title foreshadows with harrowing guitars and clanging drum cymbals. It illustrates the concept of someone being blocked from an element of desire by an oppressive, unwavering force. Marshall yearns for entry, wondering who “bent the key” to keep him out, and grows furious, shouting over the ceaseless backing that he’s been “knocking and knocking” and to “let him in.” It’s a palpable nightmare come to life of the concept of not being able to get what one wants that ends off the album on a shivering note.
For a band coming off an eight-year hiatus, You Won’t Get What You Want feels like a seamless entry into the band’s overarching metamorphosis. It’s a chronicle of not only the horrors of human nature, but the horrors of nature itself. It serves as a jarring reminder of all the pitfalls of life, most notably the inherent fallibility of the human condition. Outside of the brilliant execution conceptually, this album is flawlessly sequenced and incredibly well-produced. Through pedantic attention to detail on the instrumental side, it also does a spectacular job of evoking the themes of nihilism, terror, and disappointment, weaving towering walls of sound into pulverizing drums with surgical precision. It’s unsettling, intense, and truly petrifying to the point that listening to this album is essentially exposure therapy for the entity of fear, to help one learn to cope with such harsh realities. In achieving that therapeutic quality, Daughters showcase the true beauty of hardcore music: that in enduring the violent aggression and dismal subject matter lies liberation from the chains that bind us.

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