At turns majestic and soaring, at others frayed and taut, there’s a wonderful push-and-pull to Western Daughter’s off-kilter indie-pop songs.
Hailing from the Pacific North West, Western Daughter’s ‘Driftwood Songs’ is yet another album to pay lipservice to the unhinged talents of the area’s most notable exports – Washington’s Modest Mouse and Idaho’s Built to Spill. That it follows on so quickly from ‘Rot Forever’, last year’s exceptional 17-track opus from Portland’s Strange Ranger, just highlights how much of a shadow the scene’s heavyweights have cast over the geographical region.
Yet, there’s so much going on throughout ‘Driftwood Songs’ that any similarities feel like a mere tip of the hat as they run in wildly different directions. Flashes of Americana, such as on the rootsy – albeit frazzled – ‘San Francisco’ help to establish a solid individual identity, while ‘Pillars of Salt’ owes more to the pulsating emotion of Brand New than their North West counterparts.
Also, ‘Driftwood Songs’ never feels like a genre album – it’s a classic indie-rock album in the traditional sense. Sure, there are nods to emo – and in particular Mid-West emo – but you could see ‘Driftwood Songs’ nestling alongside the Decemberists or Interpol or the National in a record collection and not look out of place.
This is thanks, in large part, due to Taylor Robert Hawkins’ distinctive vocals, which can both soothe and soar with serene calm and rant and rave with unbridled fire. Just take opening salvo ‘Skinny Water’ and ‘Exhibition on Main Street’, which show the two sides of Western Daughter’s idiosyncratic sound; one meanders beautifully, the other stomps like a hoe-down.
That Western Daughter manage to keep the twists surprising and the quality high throughout points at a promising future for the emerging band – and one more act to add to the folklore of a region that continues to set trends and define genres.
‘Driftwood Songs’ by Western Daughter is released on 24th March on Take This To Heart Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair