Magical, moody sentiments

London indie folk band Daughter comprise (from left) Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli and Remi Aguilella.
London indie folk band Daughter comprise (from left) Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli and Remi Aguilella.PHOTO: 4AD

Slow-core is the ultimate art of passive-aggressiveness and those who master it draw you into their bosom.

Within you will remain: One thinks of Santa Monica dream-popsters Mazzy Star, with their starlit sonics, Hope Sandoval's feline purr as well as Minnesota trio Low, with their starkly powerful arrangements. In their quiet ways, every small step sends shudders.

London indie-folk trio Daughter are the transAtlantic addition to this rock sub-genre. Their second album, Not To Disappear, takes off from the desolate beauty of their 2013 debut If You Leave.

Brooklyn producer Nicolas Vernhes, so adept at creating the Sensurround pomp for Animal Collective, invokes the same magic here.

He takes his time. New Ways starts quiet, reminiscent of the band's stripped-back origins, then quietly a tsunami of guitar fuzz rises up. Elena Tonra intones close to the microphone, as if sharing a secret: "I'm trying to get out/Find a subtle way out/Not to cross myself out/Not to disappear."

The rest of the album plays on this tug of war between assertion and erasure.

  • DREAM POP

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    Daughter

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Numbers goes for the jugular, weaving a shoegazing storm. "Take the worst situations/Make a worse situation/Follow me home, pretend you/Found somebody to mend you," Tonra vacillates and you do not quite know if she is a saviour or predator.

The guessing game can wear one down, so thankfully they know when to pull things into focus.

The harried No Care is nearly antithetical to the general pace of the record, at two minutes and 53 seconds. Riffs whirl and drums gallop. Tonra spits and half-speaks: "No one asks me for dances because I only know how to flail." She is making no apologies and is invincible, if only for a respite.

When Daughter move out of their heads and cast their eyes on other like-minded souls, it can be doubly devastating. Such is the case of Doing The Right Thing. It zeroes in on Tonra's grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's and the terrible effect it has on her family.

The singer's words are whispered, not belted: "I have lost my children/I have lost my love/I just sit in silence/Let the pictures soak/Out of televisions" are the startling lines, repeated.

Her sentiments are shadowed by Igor Haefeli's moody strums and Remi Aguilella's restless percussion - a stellar counter-play between acquiescence and force.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2016, with the headline 'Magical, moody sentiments'. Print Edition | Subscribe