Photography: Tomas Adam

Daughters

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  • Jeromes Dream
Harvest Sun @ Arts Club 1/11/19

DAUGHTERS triumphantly returned after an eight-year-long hiatus with one of the most twisted and harrowing albums of the past decade, You Won’t Get What You Want. The album is a surprising and rewarding continuation of their earlier work; Daughters embrace the sounds of no wave and industrial music, without sacrificing the hectic noise-rock edge they perfected over their short, yet lasting, discography.

Tonight’s support, JEROMES DREAM, are something of hardcore legends in their home state of Connecticut. The short-lived outfit were together for a mere four years in the late 90s, releasing two albums, both of which were one of the first to be recorded by seminal producer Kurt Ballou, essentially the Nile Rodgers of heavy music. They return after nearly two decades of silence without skipping a beat. During their original stint, the band refused to use microphones and even play on the stage, often setting up on the floor. Rejecting convention, the music is often angular and inharmonious, favouring screeching guitars and violent screams. Cuts from their new untitled record like Drone Before Parlor Violence are more melodic, and hark back to the nostalgic emo and post-hardcore of the late 90s, yet hardly sound dated in the slightest. Long droning sections in Half-In A Bantam Canopy see the band embracing post-rock in a way they previously haven’t. Everything about them serves as a big middle finger to the mainstream. Frontman and bassist Jeff Smith screams into a microphone with his back to the audience and doesn’t say a single word in between songs. The message is loud and clear, but he could at least turn around and give the kids who are to see him a wave?

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There is an air of anticipation as Daughters take to the stage. The music dies out and a familiar tune plays over the loudspeakers; the beautiful post-punk classic Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus. The walk on reference is two-fold: firstly, as a nod to Daughters’ embrace of the new wave sounds of the 70s and 80s; secondly, and more notably, the song’s legacy is forever intertwined with its iconic use in the classic film The Silence Of The Lambs. In the spine-chilling scene, serial killer Buffalo Bill gets all dolled up and films himself singing along to the song with his penis tucked between his legs. All the while his latest victim tries to escape becoming a part of his “woman suit”. Sleazy, depraved and sex-obsessed, Daughters take to the stage.

Given the introspective nature of You Won’t Get What You Want, one might expect the audience to be awestruck and inward during their performance. We quickly realise this is not the case as they begin The Reason They Hate Me. Frontman Alexis S.F. Marshall assumes control with a bloody forehead and brings all the energy of The Dillinger Escape Plan to Arts Club. He stage dives, climbs on top of speakers, wraps the mic cable around his neck. A man after GG Allin’s heart, he puts his fingers down his throat, spews an ungodly amount of saliva onto his hand and wipes is all over his face. The band have clearly not lost their roots on The Lords Song, which is the closest they sound on their latest record to their earlier days.

“The entire experience is anxiety-inducing and downright unnerving, like watching a good horror film” Joel Durksen

There is a healthy mix of old and new, squeezing in blistering songs like The Virgin and Our Queens (One Is Many, Many Are One) from 2010’s self-titled album, with the common thread being the wild and shrieking guitar sounds that only Daughters can make. Songs like the crooner Less Sex and Satan In The Wait are where the band steps into new territory. The beautiful synth lines in the latter sound like they could be right out of a Peter Gabriel song, giving the audience a well needed breather before returning to the punishing, throbbing latter half of the song as Marshall screams “This world is opening up”.

Marshall’s lyrics transport you right into the twisted mind of a mad man. There’s something deeply unsettling and apocalyptic about the poetry of the closer, Ocean Song, the story of a man overcome with paranoia at the banality of everyday life, who simply begins to run from his home. “The shadow haunts him for several yards/The ghosts of what he was, desperate to keep up until gone”. Seeing the song performed live verges on an exorcism, for Marshall and for the audience. The entire experience is anxiety-inducing and downright unnerving, like watching a good horror film. For those who can stomach them, Daughters have become one of the most compelling bands in recent memory.

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