British indie-folk act meditates on unhappiness with intermittently cathartic results
"I hate walking alone/Maybe I should get a dog or something," Elena Tonra sings midway through this English indie-folk act's second LP, over guitars that gnash and thunder like a vacuum cleaner on the fritz. Not to Disappear is rife with similarly unadorned statements of discontent; it's as though we're being read a diary, composed with no need to jazz things up for an audience. The band's stylized, minimal instrumentation can highlight the monotony of Tonra's gorgeous, but largely static, vocal phrasing, as on "Mothers," where she reflects glumly on dime-a-dozen signifiers like the feeling "when your face becomes a stranger's" and unspecified "chemical reactions."
Elsewhere, lead single "Numbers" uses rapid-fire percussion to sharp effect, turning up the intensity when Tonra threatens, "You better make me better" in the bridge. The song finds catharsis by focusing in on negative rumination, using the line "I feel numb in this kingdom" like a liberating mantra. The jittery "New Ways" works the same nerve well and feels hopeful and depressive in equal measure. At moments like these, Not to Disappear makes good company for the miserable.