A trio of sisters from California, HAIM take their name from Este, Danielle, and Alana’s surname. The group grew up playing in a cover band, Rockinhaim, with their parents; their father Mordechai was a professional soccer player in Israel. Danielle toured as a guitarist for Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas, before forming HAIM with her sisters.
HAIM are a guitar-based band, but their songs are unabashedly full of hooks, glossed up with pop production, and their lyrics are merely vehicles for their lovely harmonies. At the time of writing, their career is only two albums old, but at this point, they’re making gorgeous, yet disposable, pop music. The group’s primary appeal for me is their three part sibling harmonies, but Danielle’s lead vocals are also likeable and the trio are all good musicians.
HAIM have already enjoyed plenty of attention, seemingly able to bridge the divide between accessibility of radio friendly pop and the authenticity of guitar based rock and roll. They’ve already built up a reputation as a formidable live act, while they also have personality to spare, especially Este’s notorious bass face.
Haim Album Reviews
Favourite Album: Days Are Gone
Days Are Gone
HAIM’s debut album was eagerly anticipated after they released the ‘Forever’ EP on their website in early 2012, and were named by the BBC Sound of 2013 poll as the year’s most promising act. Their recipe of guitar driven pop-rock and sunny sibling harmonies, backed with dance-able beats and studio candy is likeable, and the trio take flight when those glorious harmonies hit, like on the title track or ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’. Due to the long gestation, four songs from the album were released as singles before the album itself was released, and it’s tempting to look on Days Are Gone as a singles and filler album.
Days Are Gone is front-loaded, and the first four songs were all singles, including ‘Falling’, the bluesy guitar of ‘The Wire’, and ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’, which sounds like perfect 1970s AM Radio pop, but with percussion that takes inspiration from more modern R&B and pop. ‘Honey & I’ has a low-key harmonised feel that’s a little reminiscent of a Christine McVie track from Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, while the album’s most left-field track, the synthetic, rhythmic ‘My Song 5’ works because it draws attention to the group’s vocals.
Days Are Gone is an assured debut, full of fun ear candy, even if it drags a little towards the end.
Something To Tell You
It took HAIM four years to follow up their debut, and it follows the same pop/rock formula of their debut. It doesn’t add depth – again, the best songs are generally the hookiest – and it’s even smoother and less edgy than their debut. It’s also more studio-oriented than their debut, and the studio candy can sometimes come across a little heavy handed – the electronic voice manipulation on tracks like ‘Ready For You’ is initially distracting.
Opening track and single ‘Want You Back’ is the kind of effervescent pop fluff that HAIM excel at, laden with harmonies and Este’s slap bass. There are other smooth, enjoyable pop songs like ‘Little Of Your Love’ and ‘You Never Knew’, but the record’s most interesting when they stretch out with more interesting arrangements. ‘Kept Me Crying’ features a subdued arrangement that’s little more than hand-claps behind the vocals until the guitar solo hits. Something To Tell You grows calmer and more atmospheric towards the end. ‘Right Now’ is beautiful, while ‘Night So Long’ is stark with the mournful vocals backed by a cavernous guitar.
While it isn’t necessarily a step forward for the band, it’s not a step backwards either – Something To Tell You is a well constructed pop album that lacks the freshness of Days Are Gone, but is equally rewarding.
Favourite HAIM Songs
If I Could Change Your Mind
Kept Me Crying
Want You Back
Night So Long