The 2013 debut album from London three-piece Daughter, If You Leave, was one of the stand out album releases of that year. A collection of ten dark and atmospheric tracks, it seemed as though vocalist and songwriter, Elena Tonra, had managed to hack into the darkest recesses of human nature and express these sentiments and emotions in her songwriting.
The stand out track on this fantastic LP, Youth, would become one of the biggest songs of the year 2013 and would resonate powerfully with me with every listen.
In Youth, Elena Tonra delves into the complex feelings that are associated with a relationship breakup and investigates the darkness that these feelings can contain in a way that leaves the listener feeling enthralled, while also somewhat disturbed.
Tonra‘s writing during this song looks at the more destructive nature of a breakups.
The song opens with a verse investigating the sense of emptiness and loss that comes after the person you loved leaves. The idea that the places where you were last with them have now taken on a whole new importance in your eyes, but, because of the memories they contain, the desire to hold on to them in your head is now a form of self harm and torture as you are reminded of what is no more.
Shadows settle on the place that you left,
Our minds are troubled by the emptiness.
Lyrics like this infinitely resonated with this writer, and with the many people who listen to this song on a regular basis.
At different points throughout the song, Tonra, articulates the idea of losing a piece of yourself in a breakup. The idea that when the person left, they took with them the sense of hope and enthusiasm that helps to make the days worth living is an incredibly dark investigation into how breakups and the experience of lost love. Also a sensation that was all too familiar to me in the aftermath of my own relationship ending.
I’ve lost it all, I’m just a silhouette,
I’m a lifeless face that you’ll soon forget.
Youth also dedicates a verse to looking at the ambitions that come with the period of youth, and how this ambition is ultimately ill founded. The song talks about the naivety and inexperience that comes with being young and how the efforts that we make to achieve our idealistic future is often ineffective and destined to failure. It was this sentiment that was perhaps the most relatable to me as I firmly believe that my own inexperience was one of the key factors that lead to my own breakup. The lack of understanding of how relationships actually function would ultimately lead to its end, a regret that lasts to this day.
We are the reckless,
We are the wild youth,
Chasing visions of our futures.
However, it is the references to people who remain unaffected by these experiences that hit hardest with listeners.
And if you’re still breathing, you’re the lucky ones,
Because most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs.
And if you’re still bleeding, you’re the lucky ones,
Because most of our feelings they are dead and they are gone.
These lines are incredibly powerful representations of how, in the aftermath of a breakup, you can sometimes feel envious of those people who have not gone through it. I began to feel envious of people who were in relationships still, but despite this envy I still found myself wishing them happiness with their partner, simply because you know how awful the whole process of a relationship ending can be – a feeling that is also covered by Tonra in these outstanding lyrics.
And if you’re in love, then you are the lucky ones
Because most of us are bitter over someone.
Finally, it is important to talk about the instrumentation in this song which expertly helps to transmit the particularly heavy emotion contained within the lyrics. The opening verse consist of a fairly simple guitar riff played quietly by Tonra. This simple intro effectively represents the immediate aftermath of a breakup when the sense of shock and disbelief over what has just happened is prevalent as all around is just a blur. While the instrumentation grows in following verses to include a second guitar and heavy drums, they still maintain subdued, and this results in a softened feel continuing that sentiment of disbelief. However, it is the chorus and middle eight where the instrumentation shifts to represent the darker periods when the sense of loss becomes overwhelming and completely engulfs your thoughts and actions. The heavy drums are used excellently to symbolise the idea of these thoughts pounding at your subconscious as they refuse to be let out. A feeling that, sadly, will be all too familiar to most people.
And you caused it…