Years after first singles trickled out, HAIM have quickly become the sister-trio that just about everyone seems to love. After their huge build up and hype-train, leading to the debut record Days Are Gone, that mostly delivered on their singles, the expectations were pretty high for a follow up. While their new album definitely veers away from their last release on a compositional front, those with an open-mind may find something deeper.
“Want You Back” opens the album on a sprawling mood, full of harmonies and the trio’s signature running vocal lines. On top of funky grooves and the switching vocals it generates a lot of excitement to make up for the exhausting, slow tempo. Hitting its stride through its beat, “Nothing’s Wrong” feels painfully empty before its first chorus. Keeping its retro momentum after it kicks into gear, the sonic break feels a lot more welcome, leaning into the tracks fun production.
A little all over the place in its sound “Little of Your Love” definitely has a heft its melodies. Nailing the sisters’ knack for harmonic vocal runs that are catchy and exciting, the track sounds like a song you’ve been singing for years, especially with the weird lo-fi compression they throw on it. “Ready For You” moves with a Prince-esque level of weirdly cheesy but enjoyable funk-pop. Something about the weird, abstract way they use some pop tropes makes it all feel fresh, but it’s hard to ignore how overtly familiar it all is.
“Something To Tell You” brings a bubbling bass and floating synths together for a trickling amount of instrumentation to allow the vocals to move. The undeniably catchy choruses are addictive while also making the verses seem all to ambient for the band’s usual drive. Landing back in their bizarre production “You Never Knew” finds a steady push, using a delicious guitar hooks and memorable vocal drops for texture. Sticking the landing a lot better than other tracks on the record, they find themselves blending their quirky riffs and production to something super kitschy and a joy to listen to.
Pounding drums roll “Kept Me Crying” forward, as its barebones melodies let the vocals take centre stage. The brash final chorus finally hits the right mix as the rest of the track finds its instrumentation working well, all too quietly, especially the sublime bass from Este. “Found It In Silence” goes for frantic overproduction, feeling overtly corny as it opens. Reaching its intrigue through some moaning chants in a bridge, they start to push the limits of heavily-produced pop, while occasionally falling victim to it.
“Walking Away” moves back to the type of music you can just hear the sisters work-shopped in a small space, and that kind of heart comes through, elevating it while also seeming to relax them enough to make some of their most catchy vocal lines. Subsequently the most experimental sounding sonically through weird percussive notes and zigzagging vocal mixes, the vocal lines are either their super fast, beautiful runs or a blooming harmonic fire.
Opening on a glowing flutter, “Right Now” builds its intensity slowly, letting the slow bursts of chorus-level cries burn through. Breaking through its quiet moment, it seems to sink back into a little too much, despite the amazing highs of its horn-heavy finale. “Night So Long” closes the record on a dark yet hopeful note, as they cry out into a wet echo-chamber. The heavenly synths and bright guitar notes give the track a strange mix of low and high moments that contrast beautifully.
Whether it’s the difference in lead-up time, producing or something else, HAIM’s latest record definitely feels different. Often very open and brooding, it’s mostly disjointed from their previous record and will likely leave fans a little confused if not let down. But within this are both tracks that fit the bill for older fans and songs that hit something gripping in their unorthodox production and hanging composition.
Words by Owen Maxwell