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HAIM – Women in Music Part III: New Music Review

HAIM’s first two records were fun. The trio of L.A. sisters had great harmonies, their eclectic approach recalled both Fleetwood Mac and 90s R&B, while Danielle Haim’s bluesy guitar added some edge. Their third record, however, is the biggest leap forward from any band I’ve heard this year.

It was signalled early – 2019 singles like ‘Summer Girl’ and ‘Now I’m In It’ showed a band with more interesting arrangements and more distinctive songwriting voices. On WIMP3 these singles are pushed out to bonus tracks, but the record’s so full of great material that it’s not even an issue.

Some of the lyrics on Something To Tell You we’re merely generic placeholders. Here the lyrics are grittier and sexier – on standout track ‘Gasoline’, Danielle sings “I wanna get off\But you’re such a tease” in a metaphor that’s too blatant to qualify as a double-entendre. Songs like ‘Summer Girl’ are much more emotionally charged than anything previous; in this case a vow from Danielle to support partner and producer Ariel Rechtshaid through a brush with cancer.

With Danielle, Rechtshaid, and Rostam Batmanglij all involved in production, the record sounds great. It’s comparable to Vampire Weekend’s last two albums, but HAIM’s different set of influences gives it a distinctive flavour. There’s some surprising diversity here – the 1990s R&B tribute of ‘3am’, the reggae guitar and Mariachi trumpet of ‘Another Try’, and the raw acoustic ‘Man From The Magazine’ are three obvious examples – yet the production crystallises these songs into a unified whole. The trio’s vocals sound great as well – Este’s keening voice and Alana’s gentle tones both add personality to the mix.

Even though it feels more substantial than past HAIM albums, WIMP3 still floats by happily with its pretty tunes. Effervescent pop/rock like ‘Don’t Wanna’ and ‘The Steps’ would have been standouts on their precious records. The standout though is advance single ‘Now I’m In It’, with its glistening electronic feel. Playing the record on repeat, ‘Summer Girl’ ends the record on the same trumpet lick that ‘Los Angeles’ starts with.

WIMP3 is an excellent record, upgrading HAIM from charming newcomers to artistic heavyweights.

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