From Nina Simone and Patti Smith, to Beyoncé and Florence Welch, over the years music has brought us a plethora of strong and inspiring female artists. Whether I speak on behalf of a minority or the majority of young women, whether you turn your nose up at the statement to come or are willing to sing it from the mountain tops like a young Julie Andrews; it is my belief that Haim have secured their place as the coolest girl band of the decade. Little Mix may have won the Brit (still working out the logistics of it myself), but L.A’s three sweethearts have won our hearts and souls with their groovy rock & roll sound and their wacky yet wonderful contribution to the music industry.
And yet, after the roaring success of their debut album, Days Are Gone in 2013, their latest album Something To Tell You came as a little bit of a disappointment to me. The spark that has characterised their music was not there, and the songs (to me) lacked colour. Let me make this perfectly clear; the last thing I want to do is besmirch the name of Haim, for they shall always be authentic rockstars in my eyes. However, I cannot lie to myself, or to you our loyal cowbellites, and so must express how I feel and the reasons why. I pray that Haim never see this.
Days Are Gone was golden. Its edgy 70s/80s rock sound was proof that an all girl band can still create a banging guitar album without sounding dated. Even moments of glossy soft rock didn’t fade to grey, with tracks like Falling and Running If You Call My Name being those perfect songs for reflecting on the good times as you reach the final stages of a long car journey. In the early stages of the journey when energy levels are higher, one could jam the f out to the timeless R&B infused rock tracks Don’t Save Me and The Wire (I still do). Complete with twangy guitar riffs from Danielle and pounding drum lines from Alana, these two songs were huge anthems for their live shows.
With those songs in mind, was I so wrong to want and expect more of the same on their latest album? More shimmering softness beautifully juxtaposed with beloved badassery? For instead, and it breaks my heart to say it, the softness did not shimmer, and the badassery was not delivered. It seems as if the trio were going for a glossy rock/Fleetwood Mac sound throughout the album, rather than including some punchier tunes. However, many of the songs were neither here nor there and fell in to a dull in-between. Some just sounded damn awkward. Walking Away and Ready For You made me squirm a little with discomfort at their disunity, and even the two pre-released singles failed to hit the spot. Although Danielle’s voice shines on Want You Back, the song itself sounded like it was building up to each chorus which, when they arrived, didn’t have enough substance to justify the climax. This seemed to occur in other songs as well, such as Something To Tell You and Found It In Silence. And, on the other side of the spectrum, Little of Your Love tries to reach a more upbeat tone and yet sounds, dare I say it, a little cheesy. They also could have done with lyrics other than ‘little of your love’ in the chorus.
Despite my seemingly harsh critique of these lovely ladies, they have scored brownie points in various ways following the release of their album. Their Glastonbury performance looked like one of the highlights of the festival. Although hard to judge from my TV screen (not bitter), their vocals were strong and never drowned out by their playing, and their engagement with the audience was everything you’d want and more at a gig. It’s hard to watch them and not desperately want to be part of the band. And if, like me, you were brought up on Shania Twain (a.k.a. the queen), you’re going to want to watch this video:
Thank me later, you can buy me a drink.
And so, with the exception of the song Nothing’s Wrong, without their old material it’s difficult to see how they would deliver their live shows with the same panache. But, as always, I should not dictate your opinions and if anything, go and listen to the album and tell me why I’m wrong!! It is not that there was anything wrong with the songs, but there was nothing special about them. It’s like someone preparing you a flan when you know fully well that they make mean fudge brownies. Haim, I’ll accept flan for now, but there better be some dank fudge brownies with hot chocolate and caramel sauce with ice cream on the menu.
Lots of lovin,