Last year marked an impressive run of UK albums. Up-and-comers gelled with returning legends to produce one of the finest twelve months of music this country may ever see. It is now the turn of soothing indie powerhouses to do the same worldwide. Between the Stateside joy of Boygenius and their incredible debut album, The Record, to this latest piece from Daughter, it is looking like an ever-promising time to be a lonely listener. The Italian-Irish indie-folk trio champion the new wave of expressive music and collectively represent an important shift in the perception of folk as a dependable, essential genre. Stereo Mind Game does just that, a frank and earnest album understanding its post-rock impact with such totality and confidence.
Despite that confidence, there is still anxiety present, a truthful interpretation of lyrical intent brings about that quieter scale. Bright sparks on its minute-long intro, the waning violins, growing in warmth as Stereo Mind Game takes a soft-spoken, anxious form. Be On Your Way and the repetition of its title flows nicely, a break-up track without making it a firm one. Lonely vocals and the scatterings of instrumentals, the jerked reversals of synth stylings, they all make for resplendent experiences. Contrasting the title Party with the chemistry that creeps through, the soft-spoken chatter of turning the volume up, the slow rise of Igor Haefeli’s guitar, is wonderful. Stereo Mind Game settles in well. Enjoyable tracks keep the tone consistent and the vocals at the forefront.
Crucial to the form and genre, Stereo Mind Game finds opportunities to feel sorry for itself. Not in the pressing, expectant style that flickers through with more popular styles, but with desperation. A hopelessness settles into Neptune, one that has no aim or end in sight, just a presence. It is haunting. Just such a stunning bridge, a quality end to the finest track of the album. Junkmail makes wonderfully sweeping assessments of attempted change as its beat takes hold. Understated strings, and softly pushed vocals from Elena Tonra, it comes together with intense focus. Future Lover rejects those previous notions though, of keeping their cards close to their chest. Open and honest details of insomnia and insecurity facing the future. Stereo Mind Game is not crucial just for its lyrical presence but where it finds itself in an open plan culture, a period where sweet nothings are to be latched onto as something permanent, something lengthy.
Expected tones of isolation manage to hold firm against the usual folk inevitabilities of hope and trust. Stereo Mind Game is just that, a flowing and understanding spectacle of the mind games a listener may play on themselves. Isolation and To Rage take pockets of reality and plant them firmly as broadly relatable. What is lost in specifics is gained in the warm embrace of similarity. Where Daughter does not click immediately, its slow burn is a rewarding experience, the consistent shimmers of percussion, and the wonderful range displayed across tracks that maintain a steady theme, is a wonderful mixture. Quality soundscapes and frequencies detail this new shift, this extraordinary push toward delicacy and woeful disgust at the self. Nocturnal rarities to play softly, slowly and often.