Haim's 'Days Are Gone' - Can it live up to the hype?
Sisters are doing it for themselves...
It’s been quite a year-and-a-half for the Haim sisters – Este, Danielle and Alana have experienced a whirlwind 18 months that has seen the release of their debut EP, support slots with the Mumfords and Florence & The Machine, a collaboration with Major Lazer and an on-stage appearance at Glastonbury with Primal Scream, not to mention them topping the BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll in January – all this before even releasing an album.
On September 30th the wait was finally over and the Los Angeles band dropped their debut, Days Are Gone. So what’s it like?
Return of the Mac?
Much has been made of the Fleetwood Mac comparisons – and in part these are justified, particularly on the shuffling groove of 'The Wire'– but there’s a lot more to Haim’s debut than this. There are a broad range of influences at work here, taking in 80’s pop, nu-folk and 90’s R&B. That may sound like a heady mix, but in practice it is both effective and, at times, downright infectious.
Indeed, right from the opening track 'Falling' - which soundslike three Cyndi Laupers singing an En Vogue song while Nile Rodgers jams along – your head starts nodding in time to the thunderclap drums and rhythmic vocal harmonies. 'Forever' continues in the same vein, all funky muted guitars and syncopated bass, giving way to a breakdown that almost sounds like one of The Verve’s grand orchestral gestures before it flips again into an acapella-and-handclaps arrangement. 'Honey & I' contains echoes of Graceland-era Paul Simon in its reverb-drenched Soweto guitars, as well as vocals that sound more like 80’s duo Wilson Phillips…had they joined a punk band like the Go-Go’s.
The R&B influences really become apparent on title track 'Days Are Gone' and even more so on 'My Song 5', the latter featuring a slow, stomping drum beat complete with growling bass and a grinding guitar that owes more than a little to Timbaland’s work with Justin Timberlake, all topped off with a chorus that makes the most of Haim’s way with a three part vocal harmony.
'Go Slow' is a more mellow number that brings the album back into Cyndi Lauper territory, while 'Running If You Call My Name' is an album highlight that manages to combine the dreamy vocals of Enya with the pounding, percussive tribal feel of Toto’s 'Africa', to stunning effect. The album also features a couple of bonuses in a Duke Dumont remix of 'Falling' and a demo version of 'Go Slow'.
All in all, Days Are Gone is a varied and highly accomplished debut, weaving in a range of musical styles and influences too numerous to list and combining to make a properly great pop record. Sure, Haim are enjoying the high point of a media hype wave that has seen them become the moment’s darlings of radio, but that isn’t to say they won’t last. There is a sense of potential here and the California trio are only really at the beginning of their careers, but if Days Are Gone is anything to go by, the future looks very bright indeed for the three sisters from San Fernando Valley.
Days Are Gone is available in store or to download now.