To my great delight and mild trepidation, this week's feature album is Something To Tell You, the second studio album from family band HAIM. Their debut, 2013's Days Are Gone, was easily my favourite album of that particular year. Whether it was the disjointed drums and punchy vocals of Falling and Forever; the exquisite harmonising and guitar backdrop to The Wire or the delightfully 80s-infused If I Could Change Your Mind, the album was an immaculate showcase of three young musicians playing music that felt current whilst also influenced by every record heard in their childhood home.
Something To Tell You picks up where Days Are Gone left off. Opening track Want You Back slots into a very familiar groove as it tells a story of redemption and reconciliation draped in a mellow sunshine gossamer. Nothing's Wrong carries a sparkling energy in its fraught guitars. It is a hot summer night at the end of a relationship – overbearing humidity with a storm on the horizon. Little Of Your Love, written for Judd Apatow's self-fulfilling prophecy Trainwreck (perhaps the biggest misuse of acting talent since Orson Welles got into bed with Findus), is the album's weakest track but is credited as the breakthrough song that put the band on the path to completing the record. Well-choreographed percussion and a sultry bass lick highlight Ready For You as one of the the album's more innovative songs. The record closes out with the anticlimactic yet poignant Night So Long – a stripped-back, voice from the void track of loneliness and closure that bids farewell to relationships and album alike.
With HAIM, the potential for comparison is almost endless – Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Heart, Pat Benatar, etc, etc. I like to give them a little more credit than that. They are a guitar band releasing music in an era where many around them are comfortable with substituting a guitar for a computer. Saying that, they are also not entirely a throwback band. Their true skill rests in combining the musical developments of the 21st century with the sensibilities and melodies of an earlier time. It gives their music both a freshness and a familiarity that is intoxicating in its best moments.
The irony of this album being predominantly focussed on separation and relationship strain is that the lasting beauty of HAIM's music is the synergy of the three sisters. Unlike the aforementioned Trainwreck, Something To Tell You is an example of three exceptional artists, each of whom has a complete understanding of the strengths of the other two. It is a three-legged stool with no weaknesses and the result is music that is innovative, improvisational and, perhaps most importantly, fun.
My main critique of Something To Tell You is that things do not feel as if they have moved on significantly since Days Are Gone, especially in the record's second half. There is an element of experimentation, however it is coupled with what seems to be a natural instinct to fall back on a formula that has worked in the past. Albeit a negative, for me it is somewhat forgiveable. There was something so unique and elegant about HAIM's debut that, as formulas go, this is one where I won't turn my nose up at a second dose. I feel the proof of their longevity will come with their next release as I, for one, will be far more reluctant about returning for a third helping.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Lyric Of The Week
“We were on one endless road//But I had a wandering heart”
Want You Back
Same again from HAIM
Sisterly harmonies shine
Something new next time?
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