Be mesmerised by the enchanting vocal synergy of Empress

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Be mesmerised by the enchanting vocal synergy of Empress

Empress Daughter review
Photo by Athina Wilson / Eye to Eye productions Styled by Error 404
Words by Bryget Chrisfield

Breezy, transportive “Ooh-Ooh-Ooh”s, sung in captivating three-part harmony – one of Daughter’s many strengths – usher in opening track, Baby.

This song about female sexual empowerment escalates from minimal, skittish beats and atmospheric synth into an explosive, mantra-like chorus – “I want this/ I need this/ I know this/ Oh, baby, you know…” – and suddenly it’s a lit dance party up in here!

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This Naarm-based sextet all studied jazz together at VCA and all bar one attended Princess Hill High School, which is where Grace Robinson, Stella Dunai and Matilda Pungitore – Empress’ female-identifying lead vocal trio – discovered magic happens when they harmonise.

Standout track Water In My Breath – with its cacophonous, layered percussion and ominous synth undercurrent – lures listeners in with soothing harmonies before solo vocals unleash during the verses, fuck-the-patriarchy style: “Can I pretend that I am not a product made within the patriarchal name?” The lurching, instrumentally dense Skin! later rages, “Another man thinking with his dick with his hand out!”

All three Empress singers struggle with insomnia, which inspired Rock-A-Bye. Fourteen Years – the penultimate, a cappella track – unfurls like a gradual reckoning: “Fourteen years since we’ve spoken to each other/ I guess I’m just learning not to hate…”

It’s difficult not to become mesmerised by the enchanting vocal synergy of Empress, sure. But this group’s combined musical expertise is staggering, with their jazz-inflected grooves and intricate rhythms adding satisfying dynamic complexity.

Label: Good Manners
Release date: Out now