Album Review: HAIM- “Something to Tell You”

By: Emma Dennis, Featured Photo via Secret Sounds

It’s been four years since the release of their debut studio album, and sister-act HAIM has finally returned with an LP as difficult to pin a genre on as their previous music. After riding their 2013 album, Days Are Gone, for a two-year tour, Este (bass), Danielle (guitar and lead vocals), and Alana Haim (guitar and keyboard), finally decided it was time to start writing again. Something to Tell You was well worth the wait, but lacks the maturity that some fans still hope for from the group.

This San Fernado Valley trio’s sophomore album is an adolescent break-up text and an apology letter all-in-one. HAIM seems to have found a soundscape in which they’re both excelling and comfortable, relying on popular musical tropes of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, while never venturing too far into experimental territory. They consciously produced an album that feels old. It’s an instant classic – easy to listen to but hardly boring, fusing Motown, R&B, soft, pop, and indie rock into one easily distinguishable sound. Read any critic’s review and they’ll agree that HAIM effortlessly pulls their influences into their creations.

The band, often called a triad of glossy and polished Stevie Nicks’, constructs spacious and nostalgic instrumentations that make them deserving of such high praise. The influence is unmistakable — similar walking funk-inspired bass lines can be heard both in Fleetwood Mac’s 1977, “You Make Loving Fun,” and HAIM’s, “Little of Your Love.” Further, Mac’s, “Dreams,” of the same album, Rumours, certainly had an impact on HAIM’s dreamy and vintage sounding, “You Never Knew.” In fact, the entirety of the 1987’s Tango In The Night could pass as a retro-edited HAIM album. The internet is littered with comparison, and for good reason.

Lyrically, I have a bone to pick with this album. Despite layers and layers of sweet sonic excellence, each track leaves something to be desired regarding content matter. There’s nothing wrong with a good love song, but hearing about the ebbs and flows of an obviously ill-fated relationship for eleven tracks gets old. It’s here where some fans of Days Are Gone seem to be disappointed, hoping the sisters would grow out of writing incredibly nondescript, depthless love songs, though their reluctance to mature in this way doesn’t appear to be detrimental to their overall success. While their lyrics are far from ground-breaking, HAIM possesses musical talent so grand it has its’ own magnitude.

A few listens to Something to Tell You reveals the checklist that the ladies of HAIM seem to follow when writing music: uncrowded, off-beat, tension-building verses in which the guitar licks orbit around the vocals; generously provided but nimble three-part harmonies; a full, resonant, and syncopated chorus, and a twist. While I must comment on their apparently formulaic song writing method, HAIM still manages to surprise me. From the vocoder in “Kept Me Crying,” to the ominous vocal breakdown that’s soaked in reverb in “Nothing’s Wrong,” and beyond the slick switch from LinnDrum, to a live kit on “Ready For You,” these constant surprises coat this album in character, leaving it dripping in the sticky charisma that keeps me coming back.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: