Haim is, as many know, a personal favorite of mine. Thankfully, their first full-length album, "Days Are Gone," lives up to all of my expectations.
For those who didn’t read the Haim love affair in my editor’s note a few weeks ago, the Los Angeles-based band is composed of three sisters who sing and play guitar, keyboard and bass. A genetically unrelated male drummer accompanies the band.
The album’s opening track, 'Falling,' contains all elements of Haim’s signature '80s rock and synth-pop sound. The reverberating bass drum, punctuated by punchy snare claps, accompanies the sisters’ harmonies and a strong lead guitar. The second track, 'Forever,' was Haim’s first single, and introduces the group’s penchant for using the synthesizer in a compelling and non-tacky manner. This sound carries through the rest of the album. This isn’t to say that every song sounds the same; instead, Haim harnesses the core of its sound to develop a rich album filled with danceable (and cry-able) tracks.
The lyrics throughout "Days Are Gone" show the sisters’ mature writing which complements their incredibly playful live energy. 'If I Could Change Your Mind' describes the pain of failed love affairs: “and I never saw it coming / forgive my lying eyes / but I gave you all or nothing / if I could change your mind / I could make you mine." 'The Wire' successfully manages to be both a break-up song and a feel-good anthem. The chorus, “But I just couldn’t take it / I tried hard not to fake it / but I fumbled it when it came down to the wire” seems, without the music, to be a sad tale of a relationship's end. Instead, the addition of the chorus's strong guitar riff and vocals induce listeners to sing along en masse.
Concluding song 'Running If You Call My Name' is an apt finale. From the beginning of the song, the vocals reverberate, and the slow-building tempo is reminiscent of a dramatic film’s concluding 'fade into the sunset' song. The sisters sing, “I’ll keep running if you call my name / I’ll come running if you come my way," while muted drums and keyboard create a round that mirrors the effect of the vocals as the album closes.
I conclude with not my own thoughts, but with those of NME music critic Tom Howard: "The best thing about Haim is that the songs they write are 100 per cent bull***t-free. Los Angeles sisters Danielle, Este and Alana Haim sing proper vocals and play proper guitars and give their drums a right proper thwacking and don’t try to do or be anything, they just let it happen. As easy and natural and obvious as the gradual transformation of ewe’s milk into a nice big block of Roquefort."
Haim’s new album “Days Are Gone” will be released on September 30th.