It’s been four years since the Haim sisters managed to live up to all the hype with their immaculately-produced debut album, Days Are Gone. However, according to middle sibling Danielle, it’s a period in which the group have decided they no longer want to lean on such ‘studio f***ery.’
Given such talk, along with their lengthy absence, you may expect the Haim of 2017 to sound like a completely different proposition than the Haim of 2013. However, you’d be wrong. Indeed, sophomore Something to Tell You pretty much picks up where its predecessor left off, draping the trio’s catchy melodies in a super-sleek ’80s AOR production which recalls Tango in the Night-era Fleetwood Mac, Heart’s poodle-rock phase and the chart-topping heyday of Wilson Phillips.
With longtime producer Ariel Rechtshaid back on board, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. But you do have to wonder if Danielle has heard a completely different record to everyone else. For apart from the uncharacteristically sparse closer “Night So Long,” Something to Tell You has bells and whistles in abundance.
Just listen to the heavily distorted vocals that interrupt the country-fied “Nothing’s Wrong,” or the cavalcade of echo-laden percussion which threatens to come tumbling out of the speakers on the title track, or the wall of noise that makes taster track “Right Now” suddenly explode into life. A back-to-basics, frills-free record Something to Tell You most certainly isn’t.
But although Haim’s strict adherence to the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach may not produce anything remotely unexpected, it does allow the group to once again cement their status as the current masters of sun-kissed soft-rock.
Take the irresistible lead single proper “Want You Back” for example, an apologetic tale of taking a relationship for granted (“and I know that I ran you down/so you ran away with your heart”) which should give Estelle plenty of opportunity to show off her signature ‘bass face’ at this year’s festivals.
Originally written for, and then rejected by the producers of, Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck, “Little of Your Love” is just as anthemic, even if it could easily be mistaken for Shania Twain’s comeback single. While the playful “Ready for You” and dramatic string-soaked “Found It in Silence” both prove that few current outfits do the whole three-part harmony thing any better.
But it’s interesting that the two highlights appear when Haim hand over some of the production duties to another party. The cooler-than-cool Dev Hynes (Sky Ferreira, Solange) works his typically gauzy magic on the slinky yacht-rock of “You Never Know,” while the brilliantly-named former Vampire Weekender Rostam Batmanglij gives an intriguing alt-R&B sheen to the seductive “Walking Away.”
Haim would therefore perhaps benefit from a little more outside interference for album number three. But Something to Tell You is so impossibly infectious that they can just about get away with more of the same this time around.