Lately I’ve been spending all of my time (damn time) listening to Haim. And not just because they have a brand new record out but because their debut album Days Are Gone is timeless. The LA born sisters first walked (in carefully choreographed unison of course) into our lives back in 2013 and there’s been no turning back ever since. Years may have gone by, but revisiting it still makes you want to whip on your best leather jacket, pull down ya sunnies and jump into your car windows down with no destination.
The LA born sisters, Danielle, Este, and Alana Haim, without use of a better phrase, pretty much blew up out of nowhere before they’d even dropped their first full length debut. Mostly due to the fact of how effortlessly cool they are – wouldn’t be surprised if they wake up on clouds made of soft vintage denim. With an endearing backstory and a drip feed of carefully crafted California sun-kissed singles, the potential stars quickly became a certified phenomenon. After Days Are Gone was released in late 2013 the trio continued to ride this wave of well deserved hype straight into an onstage jam sesh with Jenny Lewis, a contract with Jay Z’s Roc Nation, a feature on a Calvin Harris EDM hit, every major music festival lineup, and in matching Bill Murray sweaters with Taylor Swift.
After growing up in a family of musicians and forming a band with their parents called Rockinhaim, music had been a part of their identity since day one. Being schooled on Motown and folk music whilst Destiny’s Child was simultaneously reigning on the Top 40 deeply impacted their sound. They quickly drew favourable comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, which is a badge they wear with honour. And it wasn’t long before head witch Stevie Nicks herself invited the band into her coven by knighting each one with a “sisters of the moon” necklace. Like Fleetwood, Haim’s sound lies in that sweet spot of glorious 70s soft rock with 90s RnB and pop tendencies. The siblings weren’t just raised on these genres; they were raised to perform them. Days Are Gone is filled with a musical smorgasbord of guitar solos, grizzly bass lines, shimmering synths and even a cowbell or two (shoutout Lanzo). They can play any instrument effortlessly and it’s the raw studio moments of feet stomping on the floor, and unified hand claps which make the record even more special. When paired with lovesick lyrics Haim are in a league of their own, despite some of their male counterparts still questioning their capabilities (a conversation for another day: see Women In Music Pt. III).
Album opener ‘Falling’ begins with a drum kick so impeccably timed to your heartbeat that it’s almost like you’ve been put under a spell, and the camaraderie between lead singer Danielle and her sisters is instantly felt with the echo of their harmonies. Haim’s early influences are very apparent throughout, debut single ‘Forever’ could easily be the result of a Shania Twain and Michael Jackson collab, the rumbling drums on ‘Running If You Call My Name’ and ‘Let Me Go’ is straight out of a Phil Collins textbook, while the summery synths on ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’ wouldn’t be out of place on a TLC single. The band even went as far as to sample the guitar riff from Eagles ‘Heartache Tonight’ on the intro of the RnB infused ‘The Wire’.
Another point of difference in Haim’s repertoire lies in the romantic angst of their lyrics. All eleven songs capture the essence of searching for independence after a breakup, detailing the breakdown in communication and the quiet torment of feelings left unsaid. When combined with the glitter bomb magic of frequent producer (and Danielle’s boyfriend) Ariel Rechtshaid it’s a game changer. Haim’s gift for undeniable hooks shine on ‘Don’t Save Me’, “if you can’t hold on / then baby don’t save me” and on fan favourite ‘The Wire’s’ fist pumping chorus, “but I just couldn’t take it / I tried hard not to fake it / but I fumbled when I came down to the wire”. The sassy brilliance of ‘My Song 5’ and it’s stylistic friction with the rest of the record sees the sisters calling out pathological liars, “I’ve been dying to know what you tried / you’ve been lying so honey I’m not your honey pie”. Haim’s laid back don’t give a f*ck attitude, natural talent, and musical precision is what made Days Are Gone stand out from the crowd. And when performed live, no one alive is having more fun than them (except maybe if you’re in the mosh).
Whether they’re covering Selena Gomez and Robyn, premiering Este’s “bass face” all over national TV, lounging in deck chairs on their album cover, choreographing their next video, or reuniting Rockinhaim by bringing their parents on stage for a rendition of ‘Mustang Sally’, there’s no band out there quite like Haim. On stage, everyone wishes they were a member of the band, and off stage everybody wants to shout them a drink (or be the fourth sister). The underrated perfection of Days Are Gone will truly stand the test of time, from the opening drum kick to the closing synth on ‘Running If You Call My Name’. The only criticism is that it has to end.