The sophomore full-length from London's Daughter brings a more assertive articulation to their typically brooding ruminations while very much retaining the personality of their intimate debut LP. Though If You Leave was far from demure, sharp, more percussive attacks and pronounced, if still echoey and meandering, guitars greet ears from Not to Disappear's opening "New Ways." The song also has stream-of-consciousness, near-rap passages by leader Elena Tonra ("I'm trying to get out/Find a subtle way out/Not to cross myself out/Not to disappear"); the singer has revealed that the band's recording process here was more spontaneous than ever before, with Tonra improvising lyrics during recorded "jams" in the studio, much of which was used on the album. The subject matter hasn't lightened, though, with the lead single, "Doing the Right Thing," tackling the effects of dementia ("I'll lose my mind, then I'll lose my children, then I'll lose my love, then I'll sit in silence"), and other songs likewise meditating on topics involving loss, loneliness, and disappointment. Musically, sound-defining delay, a dark tone palette, and friable vocals wrap the whole album in a distinctively muddy cocoon while dodging monotony. The especially intimate "Mothers" favors relatively sustained tones and lush simplicity; while high contrasts and pounding, tribal-like low-pitched drums mark "Numbers" ("I feel numb"); and the bass-heavy, drums-hyper "No Care" could be imagined emitting from the drainage grates outside an underground nightclub (though "No one asks me for dances because I only know how to flail"). Altogether elegant, moving, and often beautiful, Not to Disappear leaves Daughter, without question, on the heavier side of the emotional spectrum, but, like the Cure's "Dark Trilogy" 35 years prior, is sure to connect deeply with some listeners and stand out not only among pop contemporaries but among other emotive, textured indie pop.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson