Haim first broke out in 2012 with the release of their ‘Forever’ EP. Since winning the BBC’s ‘Sound Of’ poll at the start of 2013, the three sisters have been proving themselves as a live band on both their headline tour and at festivals, garnering a huge legion of devoted fans with their fusion of girl band pop hooks and scuzzy rock guitars – Stevie Nicks meets En Vogue.
In that same time, they’ve released a number of hit singles: Forever with its belching bass synth middle eight, Don’t Save Me and its video dance routine, the funky Falling and recent summer smash The Wire. The girls’ debut, ‘Days Are Gone’, is their opportunity to now prove themselves in the studio and features each of these (arguably overplayed) singles. As such, it instantly feels familiar which may disappoint some, but when the songs are this good it barely matters. Their instantly recognisable sound is equal parts retro and refreshing – there’s a reason they’ve been storming the charts and the radio of late.
That’s not to say that ‘Days Are Gone’ features few surprises. Many of the new tracks have a stronger synth element than the singles: If I Could Change Your Mind is an obvious future single that features glittering synths and electronic drums alongside the funky bass lines; title track Days Are Gone (co-written with Jessie Ware) certainly has a strong electro feel paralleling the girls’ characteristically precise vocals; and My Song 5 is a bubbling, bluesy concoction of belching bass and jerky beats. On the flipside, Honey & I is pure laidback Fleetwood Mac, whilst rock slow-jam Go Slow (familiar to fans of the ‘Forever’ EP) fulfills the ballad quotient and affirms the sisters can do serious emotion as well as female angst. The songs are varied throughout, suggesting a wealth of opportunities for new directions in the future.
In a time when electronic music rules, Haim have seemingly done the impossible: lived up to the hype with a guitar-centric album. They’ve survived the initial buzz and a hectic festival schedule to release an album that polishes an already accomplished live set. ‘Days Are Gone’ doesn’t quite live up to the full live experience (‘bass face’ doesn’t really translate in audio form), but the precision of their instrumental performances and singing takes on new clarity in recorded form. It’s a rare thing to create a unique sound, but the sisters have moulded decades of musical inspiration into a sound that’s wholly their own.
* If I Could Change Your Mind
* Don't Save Me
* Go Slow
Listen: 'Days Are Gone' is released on 30th September.