To call Haim’s “Days Are Gone” anything less than versatile would be an understatement. If you like pop, this album’s for you. It’s also the album for you if you like ‘90s R&B, ‘70s rock or contemporary indie music. The Los Angeles-based trio of sisters have already had some sizable hits with “The Wire,” a breakup anthem that’s remarkable not only because of its remorseless female perspective (a welcome change from every new Jay Z-themed Beyoncé song) but also for its sonic likeness to ‘70s pop-rock acts, and “Falling,” a glossy, club-ready ode to self-discovery dominated by funky bass, synths and drums that would sound at home on a Duran Duran song. But despite winning the BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll, they haven’t quite broken through to superstardom in the states.
Hopefully, that will change with “Days Are Gone,” an album that showcases their versatility, their remarkable ability to write a tight song and their commitment to their craft. A good number of the songs on the album have been previously released as singles on their “Forever” EP, but the band went back into the studio and added new instrumental and vocal layers to all of their previously-released songs, with universally positive results.
The songwriting credits are a rarity for this age — pretty much just the sisters and a collaborator or two on a few songs, a sparseness not often seen in today’s pop music, where artists like Rihanna and Beyoncé have entire teams writing each song with (or for) them.
“The Wire” and “Falling” are emblematic of two of the major sounds on the album — R&B-influenced pop, reminiscent of the early ‘90s, and more straightforward rock in a ‘70s mold. Haim certainly have these sounds down to a science, as there isn’t a weak track on the album. At points they go further to showcase their versatility, as on “My Song 5,” when they blend hip-hop, pop, dubsteppy bass, grunge and blues to produce a moody, groovy song about defiance (it centers around the phrase “Honey, I’m not your honey pie.”) “Go Slow” is another highlight — it sounds like Fleetwood Mac with access to a beatpad, and contains one of the most touching moments on the album, when lead singer Danielle Haim sings about “hating who I’ve become.”
Haim is remarkable for their musicianship, their unabashed and strong female perspective and their wide-ranging influences, but what makes them truly stand above the rest is their ability to synthesize all these factors and produce something that sounds not like an imitation, but something definitively new.