Haim (photo courtesy of Sony Music, PR)
Something To Tell You
Like a refreshing blast of golden California sunshine, Haim — a trio consisting of three extremely talented sisters — envelop us with their cheerful blend of infectious and deceptively intricate pop. Five years after their first release and four after their debut album, Days Are Gone, Haim have returned with a second album, and it proves they are alt-pop’s real deal.
The Haim sisters — Este (oldest), Danielle (middle), and Alana (youngest) — are from the San Fernando Valley in California, and were raised in a very musical family. From an early age, they were exposed to music by their parents, who also encouraged their daughters to learn how to play instruments. While all three showed an aptitude for the drums, they would also embrace guitar, keyboards and bass. Soon, the whole family was performing as a band called Rockinhaim. Music would continue to be a dominant force in their lives, but it took a few years before they started to treat it as a profession. After a handful of gigs that helped them acclimate to the music industry machine, they fined-tuned themselves into the trio we have today. In the late summer of 2013, they issued their debut album, Days Are Gone.
Growing up, the sisters also bolstered their musical know-how by listening to their parents' record collection, and the exposure to a plethora of sounds helped create the bedrock of their identity as a band. Whether it was ‘60s group harmonies, ‘70s pop, ‘80s dance, bubblegum or hard rock, it all has found a place in Haim’s sound. From there, what set them apart from their contemporaries was multi-instrumental chops, pristine harmonies and deft songwriting. The cherry on top is Este’s knowledge of Bulgarian and Brazilian music — the result of her degree in Ethnomusicology from UCLA.
To make Something To Tell You, the Haim sisters took their time. In the studio, they embellished the songs with numerous electronic treatments, including occasional use of pitch adjustments on their vocals and programmed beats. Percussion is one of the prominent characteristics in Haim's sound, as their background as drummers comes through in their vocal technique and use of multiple rhythms. This is perfectly demonstrated in the new songs “Kept Me Crying” and “Found It In Silence.”
Haim's instinctive multi-layered harmonies are another significant characteristic, and they shimmer in songs like the ‘80s-era Fleetwood Mac-inspired, “You Never Knew.” Also like that band, Haim sings songs that deal with relationships, betrayals, heartbreak and reconciliation. “Want You Back” — which opens the album in a contemplative fashion — comes from the point of view of someone wanting back a jilted lover.
In addition to all three sisters singing and playing percussion, Alana and Danielle both contribute guitar and keyboards while Este is the band’s bassist. Ariel Rechtshaid, Rostam Batmanglij (formerly of Vampire Weekend), Devonté Hynes (also known as Blood Orange), George Lewis Jr. (better known as Twin Shadow), and Roger Manning (formerly of Jellyfish), all appear on Something To Tell You.
Haim is one of numerous groups to emerge in a recent wave of alternative pop/rock-oriented bands featuring sisters. This includes Tegan and Sara, First Aid Kit, Joseph, The Staves, CocoRosie and others. They have each found their unique place in today’s musical spectrum. With this second album, Something To Tell You, Haim proves that its place is firmly secured.
More: Haim talks with Eric Holland (airs Monday, July 17 at 8 p.m. on FUV Live)