By Sean Orr
You Won’t Get What You Want
I have a confession to make. I completely missed Daughters when they were first making music. I was probably listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor or something. I mean I’d seen Botch at a tiny cafe in Surrey, watched The Locust in a gay bathhouse called Miss T’s, and Hella at the Brickyard, so it’s not like they weren’t right up my alley. It wasn’t until a few years ago though that someone asked if I’d ever seen Daughters. I knew the name, but they just never crossed my radar for whatever reason.
Discovering them almost 15 years later and hearing them progress from Canada Songs (2003) to Hell Songs (2006) to Daughters (2010), I was left gob smacked. From their spazzy math core to drunken Birthday Party-esque noise rock, I was hooked. And then I saw them live. While now grown up and maybe not prone to their legendary no-fucks-given antics, they still possess a terrifying intensity, the likes I’ve never seen before.
I recently read an article in a magazine called “Rock is Dead, Thank God.” Now to be fair, the author admits, “the future looks promising on the surface, but these are but mere glimmers on ocean waves carrying off a floating corpse.” Knowing Daughters they’d probably delight in being said corpse, and maybe the title of their brand new LP, You Won’t Get What You Want, is a nod to that. But then again, maybe they’re dead wrong. Maybe this is the record, like The Shape of Punk to Come, that will blow the roof off the whole thing. It’s a piece of art that, like any good piece of art, is layered with contradictions, emotion, time and space. It’s dynamic, fraught with tension and ferocity and yet willing to breathe. It’s introspective and incisive yet flails around in the expanses of our collective psyche, unsure and afraid.
Maybe somewhere in a basement in a punk house in Providence there’s a kid hauling on a CBD vape pen, drinking 4 Loko and losing his mind to a band that is ripping plasterboard off the walls, and maybe this is the soundtrack. Maybe for all the political and economic insecurity in the world you don’t need to have an answer. “The city is an empty glass. Words are nothing. Graciousness is lost,” drawls frontman Alexis Marshall on the haunting, Liars-esque opening track. A deep breath before “Long Road, No Turns” drives you into a cement barrier. I don’t understand these sounds. Are they guitars? It sounds like the Autonomous Drone Insects in Black Mirror attacking an orchestra playing broken pianos and cellos made from bits of trash. Discordant isn’t a good enough word.
By the time the third song and the first single, “Satan in the Wait,” hits, you should be fully immersed in this twisted narrative concocted by Marshall. I feel like I’m in the show Hannibal, where I don’t know if I’m the killer or if the killer is manipulating me into thinking I’m the killer. No, he’s the killer. He has to be. “Their bodies, are open. This world is opening up”. A thicket of antlers. I can’t draw a clock. My head is swollen. “Today is going to feel like tomorrow someday.” I’m so confused.
“Flammable Man” and “The Lords Song,” ok I’m definitely not the killer and I’m just listening to the new Daughters record. But then a twist. Apparently Leonard Cohen and David Bowie wrote Less Sex in hell as the opening title to Peaky Blinders. “I let it into my home”. What have I done? The Feng shui in my beautiful loft is ruined. I try to smudge it, but it just keeps oozing out of the walls. I drew a chalk door on the brick wall. “I gave it complete control.”
This record is ruining my life. I just got fired. “This is the Reason They Hate Me” is the reason they hate me. “Don’t tell me how to do my job,” I scream at my boss. It should feel great but it’s like someone else is speaking for me, speaking through me. “Maybe the sun waits for you to be sure what to do”. I thought I was the only one into solipsism.
“A loose thread. A worsening.” I’m unraveling. Sitting by myself, muttering about ghosts and money as the sound of dead angels drowning in the Salton Sea. “There is an ocean beyond the waves.” I can’t see the forest for the trees. Even in smoke and mirrors there is smoke and mirrors. When the fox hears the rabbit scream, he comes running. But not to help.
Two fucking gypsy’s outside in the hallway. “Pounding and Knocking and knocking and knocking. Let me in.” Great, now I’m in some sort of Funny Games situation. Just fucking end it already. I reach for the deadbolt. Slide it gently to the left, resigned. Open the door. The dread has consumed me. I’m on the outside looking in. Nobody is there. Just a pile of papers with the words “Rock is Dead, Thank God” written on it.