Album review: Haim, Days Are Gone (Polydor)

 

After a year of generating enough buzz to suggest a reversal in the decline of the world’s bees, LA’s three sisters Haim are now familiar enough to seem like two bands.

One is Haim in person, cracking-wise interviewees whose live form has involved stage-diving, thrillingly rock-ist covers of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” and, from resident wild card Este, the wickedest “bass-face” since Derek Smalls. The other is the studio Haim, whose tight fist of West Coast melodies, burnished 1980s pop and R’n’B polish packs a direct punch that could, still, benefit from more of the other Haim’s personality.

Granted, Haim whip up yesterday’s cheese into today’s hipster catnip with more panache than most MTV-era revivalists. After “Falling” arrives on a synthetic echo of Ultravox’s “Vienna”, overhauled fragments of Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” (“Don’t Save Me”), Billy Ocean’s “When the Going Gets Tough” (country-pop bouncer “The Wire”) and Tango in the Night-era Fleetwood Mac (“Forever”) breeze by in bright flurries of snappy snare, sun-bronzed harmonies, soulful vocals (sister Danielle) and bubbly bass-lines: Este’s war-face on, no doubt.

The package is seductive, brimful of hooks – and, with Haim’s wit softened into songs of romantic anomie, so slick it slips down like ice-cream eventually. While newer tracks “My Song 5” and “Let Me Go” snag by throwing surprisingly moody shapes, Martika-esque closer “Running if You Call My Name” sounds like something smoothed for A-list romcom duties.

Days Are Gone cannily equips Haim for that kind of fame, but less familiar routes might be the making of them.

 

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