You Won’t Get What You Want is the first new release since the reconvening of Providence, Rhode Island-based avant-garde hardcore outfit Daughters. It is a head-spinning disintegration trip, windows and walls crashing down around a frightened subject, narrated by an at times frantic, at times resigned, and at times poetically inclined author.
The lyrical style across the album alternates between two modes of delivery. Spoken-word descriptions of a world dissipating and fragmenting through the lens of a defeated and anxious psyche carry much of the record. Streetlamps cast long shadows and the landscape is inevitably swallowed by the waves in “Ocean Song”. An urban landscape like an empty glass is described at length (by word and sound) in “City Song”.
These descriptive passages tend to distill themselves into sharp, focused one-liners that burn through the skin, repeated time and again to make sure they stick – “Knowing they’ll die here or there / Knowing they die here and there.” (“Daughter”) “Their bodies are open / Their channels are open / This world is opening up.” (“Satan In The Wait”)
All is delivered in a howl largely reminiscent of Jesus Lizard’s David Yow, and in settled moments bears a resemblance to the calm demeanor of Bill Callahan.
On this record, Daughters explore predominantly feelings of overwhelming anxiety and fear. These are at times poured out in a flood, at times suppressed and at times battering from the outside in. Closing track “Guest House” and the white-knuckle delivery of “knocking and knocking and knocking – let me in!” exemplify these aspects all in one.
Outside of the bluesy groove of “Less Sex” that has a Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds feel, You Won’t Get What You Want seems to be trying to make you agree with just that statement, in high-tension scratching and scraping, the music shattering. It is an industrial grind tinged with something along the lines of Husker Du. There aren’t many moments when the instruments are left to be themselves – instead, drums or guitars distorted into creating the soundtrack of disintegrating society, accentuated by needling synth stabs. But each song bears its own imprint, once again Bad Seeds-like in the way that one musical movement per track is sufficient to allow breathing space for vocal creativity. But imagine that breathing space as the sliver of air left over inside a ship that is drowning.
Opener “City Song” with its pulsing build-up and flickering, searing images and the connected follow-up “Long Road No Turns” are the album highlights, combining great lyricism and driving rhythms. Driving that is heading straight off the side of the road off of the cliffside. “Long Road No Turns” is relentless and pounds at the inside of your skull, only to end with possibly the best lyric of the album, shattering the former introspection: “Ain’t it funny how it works, someone has always got it worse.”
And then fading away in a static haze and funereal guitar chords. To think that these two opening tracks are just the beginning of the album is an exhausting thought, as they are meant to leave you shaking on the outside and churning on the inside. This discomfort is a key factor in making You Won’t Get What You Want a successful project.
Entering with little to no expectation, Daughters’ first release since 2010 certainly gives me something that I wanted. Though their musical influences are glaringly evident at times, this record is a unique product. It is a heavy dose of how anxiety and despair can feel and the transformation it can cause in your surroundings. Musically and lyrically the album can be thrilling, though indeed has moments bordering on artsy moaning and groaning.
review by Andy Resto