HAIM – Days Are Gone review

Originally Released 27th September 2013. Review Originally published 30th November 2013.

What is it about siblings in rock? We simply can’t get enough of family funk, or so it seems, despite the fact that most of us barely seem able to get through Christmas without wanting to excommunicate our own brothers and sisters. Haim (Pronounced Hiyam, not presumably in homage to the ex-Warrington scrum half) now have a story which due to non stop promotional grist feels a bit less contrived than it sounds. For the few uninitiated, it goes like this: three sisters (Danielle, Este and Alana) escape semi-boho upbringing in California, initially via a support slot for Julian Casablancas and latterly through an avalanche of polished, contemporary pop songs, nearly all of which have made their way onto this immaculately presented début album.

Such is the nature of the modern music game that almost half of Days Are Gone has already been released out into the wider world, and the BBC’s normally albatross-like Sound of 2013 award for once seems to have been precision scoped, in commercial, if not creative terms. Not quite all of the backdrop rings true – the girls are far too clever to attempt imprinting Rumours with an identity of their own – but the trick they do neatly pull off is making the listener abandon all of these precepts and simply enjoy the ride. Opener Falling begins the process seamlessly, overtones of the 80’s FM behemoths buffed to a shine which showcases their harmonies and choppy vocal interplay, a togetherness that from second one is never allowed to be knowingly undersold.

They work as a team, and in clusters; as if bold track sequencing was another band’s problem, the one-two comes in the form of Forever, a little heartbreak song which revels in it’s understatement whilst being a book as open as to be read and enjoyed by anyone even vaguely interested by the mainstream. A little drunk already, The Wire has a little more swagger and sense of glam, like the make up you only ever save for special days when you aren’t ever you, whilst Running If You Call My Name is still the seconded emotion looking for a shelf to be taken off.

If all this is making you search the inner recesses of your brain for a precedent, let us help you: Pip “Ladyhawke” Brown bowled down a very similar lane just a few years ago on her own first release – arguably with better songs – but maybe the fact she had no sisters played against her. Either way it’s not all sweetness and light (Thankfully). At it’s most outlandish, My Song 5 goes large on an r&b grind from which brawny guitar licks appear from nowhere and scuzzy boyfriend sub woofers start to leave Daddy wandering whatever happened to Barbie, cookies and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Atypical, it’s hard not to feel that this is a sense of much-needed release, of going justly against the grain. The same but different, the bonier Let Me Go finally sees a freer sense of urgency which their live shows have become renowned for, more bar room than ballroom with almost riffs finally coming to the forefront.

Maybe there is an element of wanting to give the finger to conformity a young woman feels; maybe it’s a figment of your imagination, especially when something as blue-eyed and perfect as Change Your Mind, the essence of which is so ensconced in eighties candy floss. Maybe the three of them can’t stand each other borrowing their deodorant, or all cheat at Scrabble; they do however make music so unfettered by cool that it’s hard not to love.

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