Given its beginnings as Elena Tonra's solo project, it would be easy to assume that Daughter is just another singer/songwriter act with a couple of supporting musicians. However, over the course of If You Leave, Tonra, guitarist Igor Haefeli, and drummer Remi Aguilella make it clear that this is the work of a band. Together, they swing between moments of close-up intimacy and widescreen majesty, often during the course of one song. These songs have so many ebbs and flows that they're practically tidal: "Lifeforms" swells from spiraling guitars that recall the xx in their moody simplicity into towering rock that makes the most of Haefeli's amps and Aguilella's kit. That said, the most powerful part of Daughter's music is Tonra's lyrics, which are full of striking images that echo and intensify the music's mix of detail and drama. Heartbreak leaves physical destruction in its wake on "Youth," where the loveless are "setting fire to our insides for fun"; "Still" uses careful and clever parallel structures to track a relationship's decay, making a poignant contrast between when things were good and when they weren't. If You Leave's haunted, wounded, and weary songs aren't always the easiest listening; there's a fine line between brooding and moping, and while Daughter mostly stay on the right side of it, they wobble occasionally, to the point where the brisk acoustic guitars on "Human" feel like opening the windows in a stuffy room. Tonra's voice, which has just the right balance of warmth and ethereality, helps carry the album through its darkest moments and shines especially brightly on the closing track, "Shallows," a slow-building, seven-minute epic that earns its drama and shows what they can do with that kind of space. Even if their meditations on heartbreak and death can be overwhelming occasionally, If You Leave proves that Daughter can channel a single mood over the course of an entire album with often exquisite results.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares