16 November 2013

HAIM - Days Are Gone

There has been an awful lot of hype for this band and in such a relatively short period of time in the UK for the sisters Haim (pronounced HaIm, rhyming with time); but what seems like a short time for us is a long time coming for the USA darlings of the indie pop media scene.  Formed in 2006 these ladies have lead a charmed life getting the attention of Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Danielle Haim has played in Scarlet Fever which performed as the backing band of Cue-Lo Green during his promotion of "The Lady Killer", two of the ladies are American University (or College) degree holders and have toured with Florence + The Machine in the UK in 2012.  They were also voted the artist to watch by the BBC in the UK for 2013 and in the running for the same type of thing with MTV.  Being signed to Roc Nation management group, these ladies are making wave with their mix of 70's rock sensibilities and their love of modern R&B, but will their album deliver the goods for all the hype.

Starting with the minimal mix of Fleetwood Mac and Bad era Michael Jackson blend that is "Falling" it has almost tribal drums going on and the harmonies are here from the start.  Lyrically it is the usual pop standards lyrics about not giving up and being strong.  It is a similar theme in "Forever" you have these ladies standing strong and telling the person who the singer was in love with but was left behind by said person, and they are trying to tell the person to make a decision.  Musically there is a lot of similarity to "Falling" but with slight difference to make it distinguishable; and this is a constant theme in the album.  There is a big focus on their own blend of 70's and 80's pop rock sensibilities and those modern R&B dashes of style. 

Next up is "The Wire" which is a much strong track, a song about being strong and that the person who is hearing the song is going to be ok.  Now, this is a more straight forward rockier song; when I say rockier it is within this band's own strange little bubble.  With this band do not expect to hear a soaring solo unless it is with a harmony singing over it.  That said, "The Wire" is a great pop song and what some of us in ATT towers love is a well crafted pop song.  "If I Could Change Your Mind" is next which another song about asking a fallen love to take the person back.  There is no depth to the songs in some ways, but that is not what is needed in pop songs like this; all that is needed is a nice set of words for a pretty background - at least that is the theory.

"Honey & I" follows on with an almost reggae attempt at pop song, it is trying to bring thoughts of those summer days of fun.  It does not get here for me and is a little weak, and when I say weak on a pop album it is just poor - it is not rocket science kids.  Thankfully they unleash "Don't Save Me" next which is them with their full Fleetwood Mac worship until to the maximum, it was one of the few singles that preceded the album and it is very catchy indeed.  "Days Are Gone" comes next which sort of falls to the way side with a feel of early 80's Madonna which does nothing for this listener what so ever.

"My Song 5" is a much better song to be honest, it has a much more dark and dirty vibe; with the modern R&B coming to the forefront albeit with a few nods to their rock roots.  It shows that they can do something a little different to be honest which this album sorely needed at this point.  Then comes the ballad (well they are mostly ballads on here, but this one even more than the others) "Go Slow".  It is pleasant enough just like most of this album and is one of the stronger tracks if the truth be told without being truly gripping which is a slightly sad thing.  "Let Me Go" is the girl is doing it for themselves and wanting to be alone away from a fallen love; with its slightly oriental leanings it helps this album's cause a lot as it shows that you don't need to be too complicated to make a good pop song.

"Running If You Call My Name” is back in the Fleetwood Mac mode (I have a feeling due to the way these ladies sing that this will be with them for the rest of their career as a band).  It is nice and simple again, just what this sort of album needs.  In fact in some places the simpler the better, as if you over think this sort of thing (which seems to be the case with a few of the songs) it falls apart.  "Send Me Down" is next and it starts with a weird mix of keyboard, hand clapping and drumming - over thinking it and sounding like a clown on a downer. Ending the album is the mellow "Edge" which does the classic thing that a pop album should have as an ending - just a quality pop song to make the filler moments melt away. On the Spotify version there is another two tracks, but these are bonus tracks and will be left for you discover and judge on your own terms.

So how did that go I hear you ask... well with this album you have the usual multiple producers credits, the three members of the band getting their own individual credits as well as James Ford, Ludwig Göransson, & Ariel Rechtshaid.  This is the usual sign for us in ATT Towers to start to run in the other direction as I am yet to hear an album with more than a couple of producers (either two separate people or the band and a separate man/woman behind the desk) which has worked.  This is another album which fall short of what could have been a good album.  It is decent in places but it is over long and could have been trimmed down by 4 or 5 tracks if the truth be told.  As a debut it is good enough to warrant some of the interest in these ladies, but not I think they have a long way to go before they release the perfect album.  It might be in them, and if it is they will need to find one person to work on their album, work in one studio and not multiple studios and just focus on the record and nothing else.  Because if they do not do that, they will keep on releasing albums which fall slightly short of the mark for what is an easy formula.

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the HAIM website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

You can view the video for "Don't Save Me"

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