An album where Wilson Phillips marks a clear influence doesn't seem like a recipe for success in 2013. However, we're thankful that California sister trio Haim
thought otherwise. Though a certain sense of retro nostalgia has become a defining trait of some of the best musical products of the last couple years (Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
for New Wave and the New Romantics, Bon Iver
for Steely Dan of all things, Lonerism
-era The Beatles), I would be hard-pressed to name an album that wears its myriad inspirations so clearly on its sleeves to such undeniable success as the Haim's debut LP, Days Are Gone
. In a year filled to the brim with promising intelligent pop, Haim still manages to stand apart.
Though lazily listing off a new band's inspirations is an unoriginal music writer's crutch, the merger of so many different and seemingly disparate sounds on Days Are Gone
is an undeniable part of the album's charm and an essential aspect of what makes it special. How many other albums out there can name Fleetwood Mac, En Vogue, TLC, Nirvana, Wilson Phillips, Shania Twain, and Natalie Merchant as almost comically obvious influences? Yet, Haim brings all of these sounds together and creates something both entirely new and all their own that is simultaneously instantly familiar and comfortable because of the working parts that went into this new amalgamation.
Ever since the Forever EP
and the "Don't Save Me" single dropped last year, the buzz for Haim has been increasing at a steady rate, and with an ear for hooks like this, it's not much of a question of why. The album's opening track "Falling" positively drips with a sincere nostalgia for the guitar driven pop-rock of the early 90s and though the specter of the 90s (in this case, very much for the better) never disappears, the album's loving embrace of R&B creates the arresting genre hybrid that makes Days Are Gone
so unique. Whether it's the country twinge/Eagles throwback of "The Wire" (the "Heartache Tonight" parallels are eerie) or the Christie McVie crooning of "Honey and I," these sisters are never content to work in one concrete realm for long and the record becomes an endlessly fun exercise in eclecticism.
About the worst thing one could say about Days Are Gone
is that it's not exactly the most cerebral record out there. It is pop music that is 100% aware of just how poppy it is. That's not bad, but if you come into it expecting great insights or poetics, you'll be disappointed. But, now Haim can join Charli XCX and Chvrches as a great revival of intelligent and fun pop that is able to deliver a great listen over and over again. I've been listening to the album consistently for the last week now and it doesn't seem to be exhibiting any signs of slowing down.
Days Are Gone
is out now. Get your copy here