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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Haim - Days Are Gone - ALBUM REVIEW

GENRES: Synth-Pop, 80's Funk/New Wave, Indie-Pop

TOP TRACKS: Falling, Forever, The Wire, If I Could Change Your Mind, Don't Save Me, Days Are Gone, Let Me Go

Here's one of the more highly anticipated album releases in the indie music community all year. Haim are an American musical group composed of the three Haim sisters Este, Danielle and Alana. This album, Days Are Gone, is the group's first full length release. After releasing an EP in 2012 and a few singles over the past year, Haim have developed a following here in the USA with their really well-written songs that include lots of 80's new wave/pop aspects as well as the vocals that sound really influenced by Fleetwood Mac and Steview Nicks.

 The intrigue and hype of this album can really be pointed at one thing and that is the influences of Haim and how they are so varied and mixed to form a melting-pot of really awesome retro sounds. Retro 80's pop is pretty much the coolest fad in Indie Music today. This Indie Pop style is really catching on here in the US amongst younger crowds and for that reason I think this album should do rather well on the charts.

There is a LARGE number of sounds on this album and just about all of them sound different. There is rock music with guitars, drums and bass, there's electronic music with synthesizers, loops and samples and then of course there is pop music with keyboards, catchy melodies and squeaky clean production. It's a pretty unnatural mix of sounds but for some reason it works for Haim. The first track "Falling" is very funky with a strong groove and the chorus has an infectious hook with those vocals. That's a common theme here. The vocals are very catchy at times. Even when the musical production sounds a bit more out there, Haim are still able to captivate the pop music audience with catchy vocals and agreeable melody. That's really one of the harder things to do in music and everytime someone is able to pull it off, I think it's impressive.

My favorite track on the album is another single entitled "The Wire". This track has a cool and bluesy feel but it's still got the modern sound that Haim are going for. I really love the guitars on the track and the vocals mixed with the harmony. There's a lot of emotion and depth to the sounds on Days Are Gone and this is definitely an instance of that. Following "The Wire" comes a track that sounds COMPLETELY different from the previous one and that is "If I Could Change Your Mind". Mind you, I love this song as well, but 80's cliches with the keyboards, and synthesizers in the background kind of threw me off. It's so wonderfully 80's but it was totally out of left field for me.

Around this point, the album takes a slight turn to a more cohesive sound. "Honey and I", "Don't Save Me" and "Days Are Gone" are all pretty signature and straight-shooting in their musical style and they don't really jump around stylistically like the singles at the beginning did. I really like these songs because they establish a pretty clear-cut image of the happy vibe that Haim go for in their music. The elements of instrumentation all begin to sound a little more familiar and I was enjoying their music. But then came, "My Song 5". Not only is this song slower, but it seems to trudge forward. It's really the weakest song on here and it kind of deters from the album in a bit of a way because it kills the mood. Granted, the album does maintain a slower pace until the end from here on out, so I guess it was not too much of a problem.

The track "Let Me Go" was one of the more creative ventures on Days Are Gone in my opinion. The song is pretty simplistic in the beginning but when it picks up towards the middle, new sonic elements are added and it starts to sound really interesting. The bass groove really holds together the song due to the lack of a real drum "beat" but it seems to work a little better this way. The guitars seem to take on a bit of a garage rock feel and it actually sounds really cool in mix with everything else. If this was the closer over the actual last track, I feel the album might have been a little stronger in overall structure.

But regardless, this album was a melting pot of many different sounds and variations and it was very ambitious. It aimed high for a debut and for the most part Haim are feeling the rewards with their current success. They were still able to draw a pop audience because of the accessibility of their singles but I really enjoyed the journey that this album took me on. Granted it was a bit roundabout and strange at times, but I grew on it quite a bit. I've been playing it for the better part of this week and I can easily see myself going back to some of these awesome singles as I have been already for a year. Also, it's nice to have some of the newer previously unreleased album cuts on here as well.