’80s Pop Revisited
The HAIM sisters are back with their second full-length album, Something to Tell You, with production features from Dev Hynes and Rostam Batmanglij. The LP focuses on subjects of relationships and love while the sounds remain true to HAIM’s upbringing, featuring ’70s inspired guitar solos and ’80s pop and R&B welded into today’s pop scene.
HAIM’s talent and knack for writing upbeat pop songs with substance has garnered them a significant fan base — including the likes of legendary artists like Stevie Nicks — and has secured tours with Taylor Swift and Rihanna. Frontwoman Danielle’s signature, R&B-inspired, powerhouse vocals and impressive, wailing guitar solos, eldest sister Este’s bass face, and Alanna’s charm tie together a live act that’s not to be missed at any festival.
The album opens with the catchy, Janet Jackson-inspired “Want You Back,” which repeats, “Just know that I want you back,” in a rhythmic fashion over slapped bass and dreamy synths. The soulful “Nothing’s Wrong” follows and utilizes similar repetitive choruses but features unique ’80’s, pop-inspired percussion and shimmering synth pockets, leading to an abrupt electronic bridge back to the chorus. “Little of Your Love” has some nice, country-inspired guitar licks beneath the upbeat, quick-lyric’d pop tune. “You gotta give me just a little of your love, baby / and I’ll try,” Danielle sings pleadingly.
“Ready For You” and “Something to Tell You” have an R&B throwback feel with sultry vocals in the forefront, while still keeping that ’80s beat alive and well. Dev Hynes co-wrote “You Never Knew,” and it’s a true standout with just about the catchiest lyrical line on the entire album, “I guess you never know what was good for you,” in the chorus. The melodic lines paired with the octave-bounding synth and baroque scale guitar truly let this track shine through.
The driving beats in “Kept Me Crying” and “Found It in Silence” give these tracks a live arena performance feel, while “Walking Away” features R&B and pop in a more delicate form, showcasing Danielle’s vocal acrobatics in an intimate setting. In fact, the restraint in this particular numbers actually makes it another standout amongst the tracks that are more repetitive in style. The R&B style carries through into “Right Now,” which features syncopated rhythms leading into screeching guitars, in a balancing act between delicate sounds of girl-at-a-paino and a full orchestra. The closing track, “Night So Long,” is the broodiest the album gets. Danielle laments, “And I say goodbye to love once more / no shadow darkening my door / until your memory is gone / the night so long,” with deep pinging synths in the background, eventually dropping off into the nothingness.
While many of the tracks have a repetitive nature that has potential to lose the audience, and the lack of melodic lines in favor of rhythmic singing is hardwired into HAIM’s musicality, the nostalgic feel that these sisters bring into this generation is certainly not to be discredited. The HAIM sisters have Something to Tell You — and it’s that they have a lot of hits left in them to create.