Published Oct 25, 2018Dense, dark and unhinged, Daughters' long-anticipated return, You Won't Get What You Want, is aptly titled.
Born from an internal schism that resulted in a breakup, reunion gigs inspired by a loving deception, and years of frustration with a "forced" EP that "lacked any emotion or feeling," it's only the fourth album in the band's discography. It comes eight years after the band's self-titled third offering, an internally maligned breakup album. Like every album in the band's discography, You Won't Get What You Want marks a shift into new territory in unexpected, yet congruent, ways.
The obvious constant is Alexis Marshall's vocals, an iconic, weirdly sing-song-spoke style with a jilting, abrasive quality that shifted following the band's deconstructed grindcore debut, Canada Songs, in 2003. That album was spiked with sexually frustrated shrieks and spanned ten songs over a curt 11 minutes.
Daughters in 2018 are comparatively unrecognizable.
Utilizing post-punk, industrial and noise benchmarks in dramatic and unnerving ways, You Won't Get What You Want is a definitive statement for a band that exclusively works with such terms.
"People always have the Daughters they want to hear," Alexis Marshall tells Exclaim! He founded the band in 2002, alongside guitarist Nicholas Sadler and drummer Jon Syverson. They were joined in 2004 by bassist Samuel Walker; that lineup has anchored the band since.
"I wouldn't say we've been different versions of the band, but the identity of the band is the evolution."
Daughters' debut was a math/grind hit akin to Bucket Full of Teeth mashed with the Number 12 Looks Like You. Its followup, Hell Songs, shifted gears, as Marshall emulated a Birthday Party-era Nick Cave hopped on cough syrup, alongside a (slightly) extended version of their bizzarro-world grinding noise punk that had by then evolved into Botch meets the Jesus Lizard.
Finally, when the band unveiled their 2010 self-titled record, they'd shifted further into dance-inducing noise rock. Given how the band abruptly went tits-up following its release, it's obvious why Daughters treaded carefully when it came to a post-reunion release.
"I hope people will look at the title, put themselves in check, and think 'Alright, let me approach this record and we'll see what it does to me' — not show up and demand that everything be this way and be disappointed when it's not like that," says Marshall.
An accomplished writer, he's also helmed acts like As the Sun Sets and more recently, Fucking Invincible; Marshall also had a collection of 75 deeply personal poems, dubbed A Sea Above the Pains of Our Youth, published in 2017.
"Listeners often have wild expectations of their own particular type of band. 'I like this band, so they are always going to have to be that band for me.' And that's asking a lot from people. You're really demanding people cease to grow."
Given the shifts that Daughters have instigated throughout their discography, it should come as no shock that You Won't Get What You Want is a difficult affair. Opener "City Songs" is hideously dissonant, nearly six minutes of mechanized, squealing noise with jolting spoken word vocals. Emulating industrial benchmarks like Ministry and Godflesh, follower "Long Road No Turns" is more congruent with material found on Daughters, the jagged noise-scapes dancing amidst the melee. Later on, "Less Sex" is a bizarre sonic shift that would doubtless feel at home on a Queens of the Stone Age album; its sexy simple vibe juxtaposed with a repetitive, heavily effected guitar. Several tracks clock out far past five minutes, a marked shift from the one-minute melees of their debut.
"I've constructed more narratives over the last few albums, and told stories," offers Marshall. "I had a paranoia about 'Ocean Song,' that my partner would think it was about me being bored with my life here, and it wasn't. It was just a character I was writing about," he says.
Altogether, everything within makes sense in the larger context of Daughters, but the band's strange evolution places them in a unique category. Like Darkthrone, Daughters have radical sonic shifts, yet always sounds singularly like themselves. It's metaphorically as if the shell has remained intact, yet the innards have been reconstructed.
"When you can create art or music, once you've confined yourself to one thing, you're there and you're performing it and dealing with it, and dealing with the same thing over and over and over again. And I couldn't imagine just working with watercolour for the rest of my life, or just screaming for the rest of my life," says Marshall.
"That just is terrible. I would feel straightjacketed, and 'fuck, I'm just doing this, and I don't know why anymore, just going through the motions.' Which is surprising for me as a fucking addict. But changing my life in that sense, and then changing artistically, it just has to be done because I wouldn't feel fulfilled in any way if I were just going through the motions.
"Music is so homogenized now and the culture is so fucked up and confused. It needs sincerity. Art needs to be sincere. It can be offensive and disgusting and disturbing, but it's real and it's up to us to take what we want from that."
You Won't Get What You Want is out October 26 on Ipecac.