Daughters - Daughters (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Daughters (2010)

Hydra Head

Nope. No matter what you say, Hell Songs was a mess. Sure, Daughters added a fine progression to their brand of caustic, accelerated spazz-"grind" well enough, but Alexis Marshall's slurred, quasi-southern drawl was just not happening. At all. While this self-titled followup doesn't quite completely follow Hell Songs' ideas, which already largely abandoned the screech-blast procedure of 2003's Canada Songs, it's still a thankfully more realized version of what Hell Songs was trying to accomplish.

Marshall sounds more like Mark Mothersbaugh and less like a drunken imbecile, now enunciating in a more active yet demented, burbling, occasionally shouted speak-sing over the album's course while innumerable guitar layers plow, bend and dance, sometimes simultaneously (the first single [?!], "The First Supper"). It works so, so, so much better.

Musically, the band has subtly tweaked their approach, too. These eight songs average over three minutes apiece, which means the band have nearly doubled their songs' mean length from album to album. There's also a heavier, more thumping low end that adds a new metallic hardcore-style rage to what the band can do. And while we're not exactly talking Rorschach levels of meaty intensity, it's added a fuller, more bulky onset of abrasion than in the past. Yet, a throbbing cut like the aforementioned "The First Supper" proves how adept the band can be, transitioning from that suffocating grip of thick gurgling to an almost straight-up dance beat. But generally, because of Daughters' fitful, generally piss-taking nature, the band does continue to nestle in relatively comfortably between other dizzying, noisy spazz bands (past and present) like Arab on Radar and xbxrx. Compact stop-starts cut in and out of the wound-up, speedily spiraling riffs in "Our Queens (One Is Many, Many Are One)", another bout of standard pension rendered immediate by its naturally spastic urgency and head-spinning pullbacks. There's even a weird cowpunk vibe that abrupts in the aptly titled "Sweet Georgia Bloom" after a noisy dirge.

There's an angularity here, sure, but it's rigid and condensed into tight, sonically clean arcs by co-producers Keith Souza and band guitarist Nick Sadler so that they're effective and economic and never dragged out. Things are heavy--that does need to be stressed--but completely active at the same time, with Marshall's punctual, nearly sardonic-sounding wail spat over everything at a consistently peppy clip (including the awkward orgasm yelps in "The Theatre Goer," if it's him--and past songwriting tendencies would lead one to believe so).

Kudos on the packaging, as well--a smooth black jewel case with glossy, interchangeable liner note lyric cards.

Not every one of Daughters' tracks comes off as a massive success, but they're nonetheless invigorated, inspired blasts of frantic energy and rugged sharpness. A massive improvement, and maybe the band's best to date.

The First Supper
The Theatre Goer