My heart dropped when I took a look at the tracklist of Haim’s debut record, Days Are Gone, before listening last week. After harbouring high hopes for their major label coming out party, noticing that not one but four songs from their previous EPs had been thrown into the mix took the wind straight out of my sails.
Don’t fret if the name (pronounced high-im) doesn’t immediately ring a bell; you’ve probably seen the stylish L.A. trio on Tumblr. Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim are sisters who’ve been playing music together since forming a childhood band with their parents. Through a “stroke” of luck, Danielle managed to nab a spot in Julian Casablancas’ backing band and brought her sisters along so they could open for the eccentric musician on his solo tour. In a recent interview with the Guardian, the sisters mentioned that his advice to them was to “disappear, come back in a year with stronger songs and hit the ground running.”
Listening to the record ahead of its Oct. 1 release, it’s easy to wonder if they paid any heed to this sage advice. Perhaps their only smart decision was bringing in veteran producer Ariel Reichstadt in a failed bid to rekindle earlier magic. Along with receiving a co-production credit on Vampire Weekend’s stunning Modern Vampires of The City, Reichstadt helped craft one of the trio’s strongest songs yet, “Falling.” “Haim” is Hebrew for “life,” which is funny, because after stripping away terrific old tracks like “Don’t Save Me” and “Forever,” their record is utterly devoid of any sign of it and plays more like a subpar EP with plenty of filler.
The fact that the band cancelled a slew of opening dates for Vampire Weekend in order to finish up work on Days Are Gone is ironic, because it sounds like it was composed at whim on a laptop during odd moments on a tour bus. “The Wire” and its accompanying video are hopelessly corny, but will probably be all over soft-rock radio stations in the upcoming months. “My Song 5” is an unlistenable attempt to mirror the grating sound that Justin Timberlake captured on FutureSex/LoveSounds that splutters to an end that couldn’t come soon enough.
To the sisters’ merit, not all of their new output deserves a spot in your computer’s trash bin. Songs like “If I Could Change Your Mind” and “Honey & I” capture the buoyancy that made them so fun in the first place. On the latter, Danielle sings about turning away a lover with a husky voice that’ll break your heart.
Despite being heavily hyped, the record will fail to win over fans expecting something groundbreaking. That said, the Haim sisters are too talented to be releasing a half-assed effort like this. Here’s to hoping they can regroup before their days are really gone and another horde of “it-girls” in high-waisted jean shorts are fighting to take their place in an increasingly dull and over-saturated music industry.