Even after all these years, Stereo Mind Game is an album that showcases the band’s evolution as musicians while still staying true to their roots. It is a reflection of the personal and world activities that have affected the group in that time, including relocating to different cities, pursuing solo projects, and the pandemic.
Elena Tonra’s hushed vocals are accompanied by clear guitars, subtle string arrangements, and electronic moments that increase in intensity. The sombre tracks that open the album, such as “Dandelion”, take us back to Daughter’s beginnings, however, the unusual song structure and Tonra’s high-register vocals on “Neptune” lead us in a new optimistic direction. This progression leads us by the hand from the dark into the light over the course of the album.
Despite being away for seven years, Daughter’s style remains intact while elevating their production and modernizing their music. Stereo Mind Game is imbued with their half-folk, half-shoegaze essence where everything from the Londoner’s reverb-laden vocals to the guitars to the lyrics seems to be dipped in chloroform. The record still leans towards the light, as Elena explains: “I think it’s more upbeat than our previous albums (but it still has my lyrics, so it’s never going to be quite sunny), but I tried to document experiences, thoughts, feelings, conversations and memories from my life, and I hope we turned them into something nice, something positive.”
The album was written and recorded in different places since the band members live in different cities, including Devon, Bristol, London, San Diego and Vancouver. The orchestration of this new effort is also more elaborate, with sampled choirs on some tracks like “Neptune,” “Swim Back,” and “Junkmail.” As the album closes with the melancholic “Wish I Could Cross the Sea,” the vocals are drowned out in a sea of ambient strings, electronics, and disembodied voices.
Daughter’s influence on the indie-music sphere has been significant since their start in 2010, and Stereo Mind Game will only add to that. It’s exciting to think about what their future holds after this brilliant and sensitive tour de force, a nebula in which one loses oneself with pleasure.