Physical distance is one of the central themes on Stereo Mind Game. This would once have defined the release through lovelorn moping, but three albums into their career Daughter have learned to counterbalance it with attempts to forge connections.
Their first release in seven years – excluding an instrumental soundtrack and Elena Tonra’s Ex:Re side-project – and on the surface nothing has changed. The windswept Sigur Rós guitars, pregnant pauses of The xx and tendency towards shoegaze tastefulness are still present on the likes of ‘To Rage’.
Yet there are significant developments. 12 Ensemble, a London-based string orchestra, play on a handful of tracks, with the arrangements on ‘Be on Your Way’ suggesting they’ve been listening to Massive Attack’s Blue Lines. Expanding the trio’s basic sound continues with the introduction of secondary vocal lines. A choir appears halfway through the trembling ‘Neptune’, its presence intentionally contradicting Tonra’s claim that “there’s no-one out there.”
There’s also a greater desire to experiment, with ‘Junkmail’ and ‘(Missed Calls)’ hinting at alt-J and Radiohead. The latter track is created out of a glitchy voice note from a friend to Tonra, impressionistic words surfacing through the mix. If it feels incidental, the voice notes on ‘Wish I Could Cross the Sea’ are more integral, where the desire to physically connect with relatives is contrasted by the limitations of technology.
These musical outliers, combined with hints of hope in connection, offer glacial progress for a band that have always eschewed the pressure for constant new content.