Album Review : Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want (2018)
There are two kinds of artists: those who create constantly and those who create whenever they feel the need to. Both can be great. The latter kind is more exciting, though. Their creative process is more difficult to predict and new material is often informed by the idea of being different from the old. Rhode Island-based noise rockers Daughters are like that. Two weeks ago, they emerged from an eight years stay in the primordial ether of the music industry to give us You Won’t Get What You Want, an album so demented and chaotic, I simply had to review it or my mind would’ve collapsed.
Full disclosure: I’m historically not a Daughters fan. The nerdy 30 seconds mathcore songs with shifting structures they got famous for on Canada Songs are as entertaining to me as raw, unseasoned cauliflower. But You Won’t Get What You Want is different. So different, it’s impossible to understand how different unless you listen to it. It’s close to an hour long and songs range from two to seven and a half minutes long, which is closer to what normal bands do, but it’s the only thing about this album that is normal. You Won’t Get What You Want is the audio equivalent to being trapped in a burning warehouse with masked strangers chasing you down.
The album opens with City Song, a droning industrial complaint set to distorted, pounding drums that sound like a panicked heartbeat. Guitars occasionally stab through at unexpected times like a butcher knife, which sets an atmosphere of crippling terror and danger. Then, You Won’t Get What You Want explodes over the next couple songs. Long Road, No Turns is this operatic metal collapse that stands out through its fucked up horror movie string section. Satan in the Wait has this soft rock-like synth playing over buzzing guitars and Alexis Marshall’s desperate howls and The Flammable Man, while more straightforward, is this anthem to nervous energy and self-consumption.
It has an immortal line in the outro that goes like: “Is something burning here, or is it me?” If you ever felt like you didn’t have full control of yourself, that line will speak to you on a visceral fucking level.
But the first half of You Won’t Get What You Want is only an ultraviolent prelude to what’s about to hit you. Believe it or not, this album is constantly ramping up and altering its trajectory like a sadistic middleweight boxer. Less Sex deliberately slows down the tempo and introduces New Wave keyboards and Nick Cave-style singing. But it’s one of the best songs on the record because of its nursery rhyme-style lyrics, which talk about desires like they’re monster : I let it into my home, I let it into my home/lead a long way down, lead a long way down. That song is as unexpected as it is creepy.
Daughter and The Reason They Hate Me are more straightforward songs, yet play off sounds that feel so familiar to rock fans they become uncanny. But nothing, NOTHING can prepare you for the last two songs on You Won’t Get What You Want. Ocean Song is a seven minutes long, walloping odyssey of paranoia and terror. It tells the story of a man who inexplicably panics and runs away from home. This is one of the most on point songs about contemporary stress I’ve ever heard. Daughters kept the best for last, though. Guest House is this fiery, compulsive and desperate conclusion to the odyssey trough urban and mental decay that You Won’t Get What You Want.
The obsessive passion Alexis Marshall is begging for shelter in this song is heartbreaking because you’ve most likely felt like that before. At the end of yourself, looking for a way out of your life by any means necessary. This song is not done haunting me. Not by a long shot. I’ll hear “I’ve been knocking and knocking and knocking” in my dreams and wake up mumbling it for the foreseeable future. Guest House has a terrifying truth to it.
You Won’t Get What You Want is both terrifying and terrifying. It’s the soundtrack to mental exhaustion in the twenty-first century. It’s abrasive, physical and emotionally wrecking. It’s impossible not to love this album, though. It’s authentic and compassionate in the most brutal way possible. No need to be a musician or even a music enthusiast to feel its bulldozing emotional power. It’s not an album you can casually listen to. Not unless you’re a music geek, I suppose. But it serves a cathartic purpose that will most likely never not be pertinent. It’s one of the best things I’ve heard all year and it has a place in rock history as one of the defining moments of its era.