Wednesday, March 24, 2010
daughters - daughters (2010)
When I heard the first Daughters album, "Canada Songs", I was floored. Released on Robotic Empire in 2003, at the height of popularity for grind and hardcore bands like The Locust and The Blood Brothers, Canada Songs was eleven minutes (!!!) of pure fury and funny song titles ("I Don't Give a Shit About Wood, I'm Not a Chemist"). And yet my shocked reaction to "Canada Songs" paled in comparison to how blown away I was by their 2006 follow up, "Hell Songs". Over twice as long as "Canada Songs" (twenty-three minutes, this time!), "Hell Songs" featured longer song lengths, added instrumentation (members of progressive metal band Kayo Dot guested), and most notably, a new and demented singing style from Alexis Marshall; no longer screaming incomprehensibly, but rather drunkenly crooning, coming off like a satanic preacher (or "the sound of Elvis Presley being tortured", sez the Wikipedia page). The woozy, off-balance vocals stumbled and ranted over the top of guitar squiggles and pounding drums, and the result was one of the most hateful and yet enjoyable albums I've ever heard. A fitting movie (or comic book if yr a geek like me) comparison to "Hell Songs" might be the Joker: unhinged, violent and unpredictable, yet powerful and entirely in control at all times. Suffice to say, I had high hopes for the new, self-titled Daughters album. But when I put on "Daughters" for the first time, it became apparent that the stylistic leap that had occurred between "Canada Songs" and "Hell Songs" was not going to occur again. Largely in the same vein as "Hell Songs", "Daughters" features slightly longer songs and more of the same crazed singing and technical guitar playing. Yet somehow it wasn't the same as "Hell Songs" to me... it was lesser. It took me awhile to fully grasp it, but the band significantly dialed back the intensity on "Daughters". Rather than pummeling, full-throttle drums, the beats on most of the songs hit hard yet rarely let loose. A thick synthesizer has been brought in, playing melodic lines alongside the guitar. The songs are more hooky too, a little bit more accessible sounding. If "Hell Songs" was Heath Leger's Joker, a violent psychopath, "Daughters" is a little bit more like Jack Nicholson's Joker.... similar, yet not nearly as threatening. Kind of goofy, actually. What happened? Sometime between the time that this album was recorded last year, and its release this year, both guitarist Nicholas Sandler and bassist Samual Walker left the group, effectively breaking up Daughters and making this their final release. This suggests that perhaps the band wasn't really working cohesively and toward a common purpose on this album, but then that's just speculation on my part. Sandler joined New York super-postive indie-bullshit group Fang Island after leaving Daughters, so maybe he was just sick of being in a good band? At any rate, while not terrible, this album doesn't succeed in the way that previous Daughters releases did, and marks the end of the band in a somewhat disappointing manner. At least we'll always have "Hell Songs".