Where do they go from here? What’s next? If a trio of sisters make a debut album so packed of full of potential classics, melodic earworms and a cohesive yet distinguishable collection of tracks with such undeniable repeatability, that in a good way sounds like a greatest hits collection, it’s natural to wonder whether they’ve hit their peak too early and if it’s all downhill from here.
Well, Haim have Something To Tell You doubters, they aren’t one-album wonders and they know exactly how to tackle second album syndrome. Their approach is to experiment and explore into the self-made characteristics that made the L.A residents so charming and irresistibly likeable in the first place.
This results in a record that never gets dull and shows growth musically with all three advancing on their skills; bassist Este Haim delving into funk-associated slap bass (she has confessed to being a fan of James Brown tour member Bootsy Collins), keyboardist Alana Haim playing with stylistic piano chords (such as the 50’s sounding ‘Little Of Your Love’) and Danielle Haim changing the colour of her vocals at times. All appropriately accompanied by words about lessons learned in interpersonal communication and the experience of intense touring.
One of the characteristics that Haim were praised for on their 2013 debut Days Are Gone is their use of three-way harmonies. This is something that has noticeably evolved in the latest release. Lead singer Danielle Haim still captains the vocal (with her style of spontaneously speeding up certain lines still present) with Este and Alana reliably in support but through embracing modern production trends and an enhanced awareness of acoustic space (in depth and distance) it’s something even more special.
On Something To Tell You Haim bend the wavelength of the backing vocals making the tone switch dramatically from deep to high pitch (‘I Want You Back’), voices are pushed to the back of the acoustic room (‘A Little Of Your Love’ and ‘Nothing’s Wrong’), made to sound Laurie Anderson robotic (‘Ready For You’, ‘Kept Me Crying’) and impressively multiply and overlap to create layers, using the kind of clever phasing associated with Imogen Heap (‘Walking Away’). There’s also an adoption of Lana Del Rey‘s style of analytical monologues in title track ‘Something To Tell You’ and ‘You Never Knew.’
Another trait of theirs that critics drooled over 4 years ago was their tendency to incorporate R&B elements in small doses within their pop rock. Something comparable to Glass Animals‘ fusion of indie-meets-hiphop. On Something To Tell You, there’s tracks that rather than hint at this mix actually go full throttle into the R&B genre. So much so it’s easy to forget it’s Haim.
‘Ready For You’ has a toe-tapping gospel soul vibe that’s reminiscent of Mary Mary‘s ‘Shackles’ and Beverly Knight‘s ‘Shoulda Woulda Coulda’ but because it also sounds like Janet Jackson‘s ‘All For You’, you half expect it to have a mid-video remix dance. Remember when all pop videos did that in 2001? ‘Walking Away’ is R&B in more of a seductive romantic manner and easily could fit on an addition of Essential R&B Love Collection.
‘You Never Knew’ best sums up Haim’s current shape. It sounds like Fleetwood Mac in its pace (in particular ‘Little Lies’), which is the band most compared to Haim. This shows the spine of their sound is still there. Yet it also shows ambition, experiments with other retro 70s inspiration in the high frequency noise of Kool and The Gang‘s Summertime Madness and the tropical synthesizer of Toto. Furthermore, ‘You Never Knew’ is a collaboration with the prolific Dev Hynes, which along with Haim’s teaming with director Paul Thomas Anderson on the video to ‘Right Now’ suggests that Haim could use partnership as another method of widening their sound and influence.
Something To Tell You is out now on Polydor.