Emerging from the dark underbelly of grindcore and noise music, Daughters began driving their grating guitar strains with rock grooves instead of blinding blast beats on their 2010 self-titled album. After eight years apart, the Rhode Island quartet has returned with a fourth descent into madness. You Won’t Get What You Want takes its time to effectively navigate impenetrable darkness, plunging deeper into sonic dementia than ever before.
Daughters have always preferred mutated non-riffs over traditional songwriting, but You Won’t Get What You Want uses caustic hypnosis to construct a claustrophobic aura. This is encapsulated by the monolithic drones of the pulsating power-electronica opener “City Song.”
Drummer Jon Syverson’s gunshot snare hits cut through the muck, locking into an ultra-heavy industrial groove. Giant dynamic changes bring on percussive syncopation and a dissonant pile into a lurching mass of bile. Vocalist Alexis Marshal’s brooding mutterings sets the album’s profoundly disturbing tone with an esoteric narrative of societal collapse.
Daughters situate their pounding aggression with a distinct array of sounds. “Long Road No Turns” lulls the listener into an uneasy trance with a harsh industrial loop, allowing Marshal’s unhinged spoken-word delivery to lead the song’s emotional crescendo.
“Don’t look to me under the weight of your shouldered cross … Someone’s always got it worse/ They hit the ground harder than you,” Marshal admonishes as Samuel Walker’s distorted bass line spearheads the discordant dissonance in the last two minutes. Even at its most abusive, a dramatic chord progression emerges over the hellish horizon. While not as frenetic as before, You Won’t Get What You Want is apocalyptically intense and intuitively arranged.
“The Reason They Hate Me” springs from Syverson’s ballistic punk-rock beat and Nicholas Sadler’s industrial guitar contortions, evoking the sound of robots destroying an amp factory. This comes off like IDLES-style post-punk fed through a wood chipper and beaten senseless by Michael Gira. The weirdest part of this song becomes the fact it actually becomes infectious in its mechanized violence.
This inexorable catchiness informs “Satan In The Wait.” Written with old Killing Joke in mind, this cut’s gothic keyboards embellish an evolving ritual beat akin to Soundtracks for the Blind-era Swans. Its simplistic, slow-burn structure also allows Marshal’s storytelling to take center stage. The song details a hapless schizophrenic driven to murder by the devil in his mind.
Though largely slower than their past releases, the new record offers two memorable forays into Daughters’ noisecore roots. “The Flammable Man” could turn any dance floor into a mosh pit with Walker’s sludgy bass tone and Sadler’s gleefully atonal guitar stabs. Syverson breaks out more of his bodacious chops, incorporating literal machine guns into a free-form blast. Its tumbling triplet groove batters listeners to a pulp before “The Lords Song” finishes the job.
This song’s jack-hammer drumming serves a suffocating wall of harsh noise, embodying Marsha’s words of mental anguish: “I am staring at the ceiling again. ‘I cry about it because I want to.’” For all its crazed viscera, the record’s sound is incredibly diverse.
Daughters build their seismic crescendos on simple drum and bass patterns, dynamically supporting vocals and guitars in overwhelming crescendos. The pattern on “Less Sex” hints at occult rockers like King Dude, while that on “Daughter” inexplicably falls into a bossa nova rhythm.
The former’s echoing bass line and synthetic beat sound like they were recorded underwater, while the latter uses its Latin feel to develop its bluesy guitar strains with math-rock precision. Marshal complements these songs with a baritone singing and emotive howls, respectively. But they both end up drowned in lurching chaos. The fear factor can’t be stressed enough, but it stems from the atmosphere as well as volume.
At nearly eight minutes long, “Ocean Song” pushes Daughters to their limit musically and thematically. Syverson’s animalistic beat never lets up, as hair-raising modulations build the tension like Jason Voorhees cornering a victim.
The band’s sheer magnitude seems boundless. The supposed peak of the track only gets thicker and louder. This rising action accompanies some of Marshal’s most vivid lyrics to date. He introduces a relatable character and tangible scenery, generating empathy for the protagonist as he flees his misery to see “if there is an ocean beyond the waves.” Daughters have hardly gone soft. They’re using a more thoughtful approach to give a hauntingly human touch to their noise-mongering.
“Guest House” ends the record with one last assault. Marshal’s vocals fall into maniacal hysterics, begging for reentry to the realm of sanity after breaking far outside. The instruments follow suite, starting oppressively loud and only getting louder. The jagged anti-music’s final conclusion brings almost-orchestral modulations into perspective, providing a glacial modulative structure for the unrelenting brutality. This looming fear pervades throughout the record, giving it a massive sense of scope.
You Won’t Get What You Want sees Daughters transcend their corrosive nature and create something grand. It stalks like a ravenous animal, waiting for the perfect moments to strike. It’s intoxicating as it is repellent, and as cinematic as it is detailed. Daughters have detached from their hyperactive past, creating a noise-rock masterpiece in the process.