2018’s You Won’t Get What You Want was a groundbreaking release for Daughters. The band’s history goes back to the early 2000s when their sound was closer in style to screamo and emo-core. On their latest release Daughters did what few groups have managed to pull off by completely reinventing themselves artistically. You Won’t Get What You Want wasn’t just the noisiest, darkest, most completely terrifying release of the year, it showed the band as a shell of their former selves, once again, after a long hiatus, on the cutting edge of noise rock.
House of Lull. House of When is Daughters front man Alexis Marshall’s debut solo record. Much like YWGWYT this is a record that reinvents the wheel and stands on it’s own. Apart from that there aren’t many similarities. If you came looking for another Daughter’s record this isn’t it. That becomes apparent from the start on the first track “Drink From the Oceans. Nothing Can Harm You”, a swaying and eerie piano song that builds in chaos concluding in a percussive wall of noise. It’s a memorable opener to say the least.
There is a distinct lack of melody across the record. Marshall opts rather to build the songs from rhythm, percussive noise, and feedback instead. That’s a difficult constraint to work within, but the percussion proves to be one of the most captivating parts of the record. Taking the Tom Waits model of “Junkyard Percussion” to the next level, Marshall employs metal chains, tin rafters, and blown out and creaking drums to make his version of “melody”. The constant off kilter metallic tapping in the background lends a disorienting edge.
Marshall gives the vocal performance of his life on this LP. Truly harrowing in it’s range from cutthroat aggression to tender in a gothic sort of way. Even on spoken word tracks like “Youth as Religion” or “Night Coming” his deadpan delivery relays the anguish and intensity of the record. Evocative of Bish Bosch era Scott Walker every line is cathartic and expressive.
On “Night Coming” we hear the most gothic track of the bunch. A deep distorted organ is paired with soft piano and Marshall’s monotone voice. It conjures images of Nosferatu and cold castles. Eventually building to a climactic point of uncontrollable background wash, the track whispers to an end.
This is a record that demands a second listen. It’s jam packed with so much noise it couldn’t possibly all be caught on the first time through. It’s bold enough to subvert expectations while still familiar enough to fans of his past work not to be alienating. It’s cathartic, abrasive, and totally fucked up in all the right ways. Rarely will you see debut records that take chances like this.
House of Lull. House of When is out on Sargent House Records.