Daughters: You Won’t Get What You Want Album Review
You know how life goes: One day you’re making songs like “The Fuck Whisperer,” selling hideous yellow shirts with a vagina-bat flying above your band’s name, and sleeping on your ex-girlfriend’s couch just to spite her current boyfriend. Years go by, and suddenly everyone’s getting married and having kids; after all the actual blood, piss, and sweat that went into mocking indie culture and convention, your friends have somehow become craft brewers and commercial-music writers. Rhode Island hardcore misanthropes Daughters never seemed the sort of band compatible with the demands of adulthood. When they broke up in 2010 due to extreme internal duress, there was little reason to believe some newfound cachet, changing times, or popular demand would ever coax their wildly abrasive music back into action. They actually tricked each other into reuniting, anyway, with no organizing principles or plans besides a lingering contempt for humanity. You Won’t Get What You Want,they say by way of a title for their fourth album and first in eight years; what they really mean is you will get what you deserve.
Daughters’ past work provided instantaneous, absurdist release, strings of one-minute songs that pummeled and then fled. But at 48 minutes, You Won’t Get What You Want is almost as long as their last two albums combined, four times as long as their spastic tantrum of a debut, Canada Songs. In this more weathered iteration, rage and rancor are fleeting and unsustainable, forms of weakness that are at odds with their monomaniacal vision. So they’re used judiciously: “They got a name for people like you/But I didn’t take the time to write it down,” Marshall sneers on “The Reason They Hate Me,” a dance-punk anthem for cubicle-bound non-punks who would never dance. They distill the message into an all-caps rallying cry fit for the Big Black-through-Pissed Jeans continuum: “Don’t tell me how to do my job.” It’s the catchiest song they’ve ever written.
Similar to their Providence art-metal contemporaries in the Body, Daughters’ accessibility is directly proportional to their uncompromising compositional choices—hypnotic dissonance, martial drums cranked to incapacitating volumes, scathing vocal repetition, all rendered through impossibly vivid production. This is not music interesting in growing on you: it consumes and dominates. As “Satan in the Wait” and “Ocean Song” churn past seven minutes, they don’t aspire to communal catharsis; instead, they reward individual endurance. “Long Road, No Turns” takes perverse solace in Daughters’ dedication to anti-commercial craft (“Ain’t it funny how it works/Someone’s always got it worse”). Marshall’s grunts on “City Song” come off like a shell-shocked veteran of urban combat trying and failing to recapture any semblance of emotional arousal. After the percussive rubber bullets fire their last volley through a web of screams and groans, the words “And the fires are out and the water sits still” hang over complete silence. Daughters are still committed to violence, but more frightening is their capacity to harbor and patiently honor eight years of ill will.
“I let it into my heart.../I let it into my bed.../I gave it complete control/Led a long way down,” Marshall sings on the self-explanatory “Less Sex.” It’s delivered in the grand oratory fashion of Michael Gira and Nick Cave, singers often used as stand-ins for the anhedonic men of Cormac McCarthy novels, “Red Dead Redemption II,” or “Peaky Blinders.” But like Daughters, their cynicism is a product of their environment and their greatest asset; their solemn duty to the task at hand is the key to surviving a wasteland.