10 Years Later: If You Leave - Daughter
The 18th of March 2023 marks the 10 year release anniversary of Daughter's debut album, 'If You Leave'. Introverted and honest, this record truly stands the test of time.
In 2013 indie/folk band Daughter brought a fresh energy with debut album ‘If You Leave’ to a scene that needed some reworking at its time. The London-based three-piece’s debut has gotten praise for being a perfect album for introverts and won Independent Album of the Year at AIM Independent Music Awards.
Vocalist Elena Tonra said in a 2013 interview with The Skinny about the album: “They’ll say 'oh I’m not sure…’ and then they’ll come back and say they’ve got it, so maybe after repeated listening it starts to make sense”. And that’s exactly right about this album, you have to really listen to get it.
For the 10th anniversary, I'll be revisiting some of my favourite songs on the album that made me want to run into the enchanted woods barefoot and be one with nature… So, make sure to stick around for a revisit and review of a band that represent the very essence of Folklore Sessions' style.
The album opener Winter is two-sided. It’s like you can feel the industrial and contemporary aspects of the song from the drums, with what sounds like dreamy and nature-infused synths and vocals, creating a yearning to go back to the basics. A good way to set the tone for the rest of the record.
Youth has pulsating and dramatic drums, creating an impatient rhythm, played by Remi Aguilera. Sad, alone, but uplifting towards the chorus before the song slows down once more, and then escalates in a dramatic bridge. I remember it was an empowering feeling to hear ‘we are the reckless, we are the wild youth’, as I was 17 years old, on an exchange year abroad when I first listened to the song, and remembered a feeling of desolation when the song came to an end, wishing it would last longer. In retrospect, Youth still resonates with me, with its strong and powerful message.
Still is the next song in the album and ironically it is the least still song of all of them. Ebbing and flowing in waves of intensity and lacking a traditional song structure, the song feels like drifting on waves on a foggy morning. The use of synths and the cyclic lyrics ‘still with feet touching, still with eyes meeting, still with our hands match’ creates a void, a sense of time standing still. It’s a comforting song- I like to imagine the wolf Tonra sings about in ‘biting words like a wolf howling’. To this day Still has a special place in my heart, and I think the unevenness of this song it what makes it stand out so much.
Another wakeup call, Amsterdam starts off with a simple guitar riff and lyricism about feeling like a stereotypical tourist in Amsterdam. However, Tonra points out something bittersweet in the later part of the song when she sings so delicately “Good night with killing our brain cells, is this called living, or something else”. The innocent child that dreamt about running in the forest barefoot has grown up and finds herself in the Venice of the North. Ten years later, the song gives a different meaning than before. It’s retrospective, sad and honest- what happened to the dreams and the adventures?
Earlier this year, music blog Stereogum announced that Daughter will return with ‘Stereo Mind Game’, their first album since 2016. Based on singles that has already been released, it’s set to be more experimental than the previous ones. Swim Back, one of the released singles, is dreamy and psychedelic, and has a Y2K feel to it. I hope the rest of the album will have a similar sound.
A decade later ‘If You Leave’ is still a beautiful listen and an album you can return to on a rainy day you want to pull yourself away from the world a bit. Thank you, Daughter, and happy 10th anniversary to 2013's Independent record of the year.
Words by Andrea Naess
Folklore Sessions returns on the 21st March at The Folklore Rooms for the March edition of the showcase. With music from Mohan Evans, ALY and Max Minardi.