Review Summary: It might not be what you want, but for some, this might be exactly what they need.
I will try to put into words why I do not like ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’. I might fail miserably, for I hope that by writing this review I will manage to put some of my more dormant irritations to words, and that might not be possible, or even probable. Let me start by saying that I listened to Daughters’ ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’ more than once in its entirety to get a full understanding of this album. This is by no means meant as a review to stomp on the album, but more of a counterargument against the overwhelmingly positive reviews already posted.
I’m going to say something here that does not stroke in any way with the rating I’m giving it: This album is a masterpiece. Why is this a masterpiece？ Because it is very rare for a record to achieve its goals in such a spectacular fashion. Those goals: putting anxiety and world weariness into a piece of art, that is immersive enough for others to actually experience the emotions put on display.
Let me ask you a question: How often have you ever looked at, say a painting, and actually felt the emotions yourself that the creator tried to put on a canvas？ How often do you watch a movie where the emotions are such a roller-coaster that you actually feel a complete mood-change after finishing it, either good or bad？ I don’t know about you, but for me, it is a rare phenomenon that I have only had a couple of times in my life. I had it while watching ‘Das Leben Der Anderen (The Lives of Others)’ in the cinema for the first time. I had it while watching ‘Grave of the Fireflies’. I had it while listening to Mono’s ‘Hymn to the Immortal Wind’, and I had it now while listening to ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’.
I will from this point on refrain from calling Daughters’ latest a music record, because frankly, there aren’t that many parts on this where I can consider what I hear to be music. I will therefore refer to ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’ as a piece of art, because that it most certainly is, whether you enjoy it or not.
One of the first things one notices when putting on ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’ is that the name is very well chosen if you expect a regular music record, for there is very little melody to be had here. The guitars are exceptionally dissonant, the vocals are spoken word telling and ranting that have nothing to do with singing, and the drums are repetitive and uncomfortable. Together it creates a cacophony of very unhinging sounds that does not relent for the entire 48 minutes of its duration.
These dissonances build throughout most of the songs and actually create climaxes of uneasiness. Long Road, No Turns
is a perfect examples of this. “A little is all it takes… A little is all it takes” gets repeated and repeated, each time with a more hopeless and desperate intensity that is truly unsettling to my ears. It is noise.. no, multiple noises, put together to create a sum of noise that is greater than its parts. By the time The Flammable Man
(track number 4) is over, my ears crave for some melody, something even slightly more comfortable. But of course, “You Won’t Get What You Want’ wouldn’t achieve its goal half as well if it relented there, for it pummels on, and we are not even halfway there yet. And so I listen on.
As I get more and more overwhelmed and unhappy about what I’m hearing and feeling, the final slap in the face comes in its finals moments. Guest House
might have the most desperate vocals of the entire piece, yet after wailing “Let me in, let me in” for the unteenth time, it gives way to just a tiny little bit of orchestral melody. It only lasts for less than a minute or so though, making it unsatisfying to no end. Did they think it was comforting, giving me, finally, a little respite from my woes？ But no, of course not. It was meant this way. It is the final insult and it is delivered so perfectly that I can’t but shake my head in amazement. That was clever
, I think to myself as I take out my earbuds and blissful silence surrounds me.
I think in the end it all comes down to the reason you consume art. I think most of us do so to get entertained. To bring us out of our daily routine and experience feelings and emotions that we don’t usually experience in our daily lives. So do I. Yet there are feelings that I pro-actively tend to avoid. Shame, anxiety and depression are some of these, and they are so prevalent and personal on ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’ that it makes for a very unsatisfying listen.
I read that some people find this to be boring. I can only think that this has to be the equivalent of someone seeing a self-made movie of a deadly car crash, or of someone committing suicide, and then holding up their shoulders and shrugging (that or they haven’t listening properly in the first place). Then there are a lot of people I read that fully enjoy this. I think these are people that can nuance these emotions and messages and put them into perspective. I, however, cannot. When I see a heavy, deadly car-crash, I can’t go “whooohohoo” and then watch it again and point out the details. It does something with me and I cannot just shake that off. It gets too close if you follow me. I do not know if this metaphor holds, but I think the same goes for me considering ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’.
Am I happy that this piece of art exists？ Absolutely, and I’m very happy that people can find enjoyment or solace in this. Does that mean I like it？ No way. I have not enjoyed this ride. I will probably never listen to this again. I’m that guy that’s afraid of speed and hights, then gets forced into the 150kmph rollercoaster. Talk to that guy afterwards and he will tell you that he hated every second of it. And that is just how I feel about ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’.