"I will meet you on another planet if the plans change"
A Review of Stereo Mind Game by Daughter
Daughter fans have waited six years for a new album, seven if they’re not counting their seminal soundtrack for the 2017 video game Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Like many others, I discovered Daughter as the musical backdrop to Chloe Pryce’s story. The English trio’s dreamy blend of indie, folk, and rock, first showcased in that game’s reveal trailer, was my introduction to the indie genre at age 13. That song was “Numbers” off their hypnotizing 2016 album Not to Disappear and my gateway into being an indie-head.
Daughter’s music makes you feel like the protagonist of an A24 coming-of-age arthouse film. Picture yourself riding a train to nowhere, gazing out at the sunset while trying to ignore your reflection in the window. Picture your life in a widescreen aspect ratio. Their music blended exceptionally well with the quiet nostalgia-fueled introspection of Life is Strange. My favourite songs are “Doing the Right Thing,” “Numbers,” and “Landfill.”
The new album Stereo Mind Game is incredible. It’s bold, wildly experimental, and deeply beautiful. The album’s title means internal conflict. The album feels like walking, running, and then swimming through someone's jumbled thoughts and memories. The interlude “(Missed Calls)” is a disorienting collection of disconnected phone calls layered on gorgeous strings. It sounds like something out of a BioShock audio log. Daughter’s experimentation with electronic elements shows most in the track “Future Lover.” Its intro wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nine Inch Nails album. The final track, “Wish I Could Cross the Sea,” uses reversed audio. The album plays more with percussion than previous albums, notably on the track “Swim Back.” Daughter strives to subvert their image as another mellow indie band, though the acoustic track “Isolation” proves they’re excellent at that sound. Stereo Mind Game makes me beyond excited for wherever they take their sound next.
Lyrically, Daughter plays it more safely than on Not to Disappear. This is a break-up record—more in line with their debut album, If You Leave. I loved Not to Disappear for its approach to mental illness, particularly dementia on “Doing the Right Thing.” The music video for “How” was a raw portrayal of obsessive-compulsive disorder and agoraphobia. Stereo Mind Game’s lyrics are as vivid as ever, but I wish they tackled fresher themes. However, my favourite track, “Party,” is about addiction. The chorus goes, “I fear the time wipe out for fear that I’d forget the worst night of my life, or even worse, the best.” The standout tracks are “Party,” “Neptune,” “Be On Your Way,” and “Wish I Could Cross the Sea.”
Overall, I cannot recommend Stereo Mind Game enough. Even if you think indie music is just sad bands complaining about their lives over acoustic guitars, this may be the album that converts you. So, get on that train, put your wired earbuds in, and swim through Daughter’s mental ocean.