Story by Kwaku Farrar
It has been a long time coming for sisters Danielle, Alana and Este, better known to the world as Haim, as their debut album Days Are Gone finally reaches stores worldwide today (September 30th). The Los Angeles based sisters, who are managed by hip-hop heavyweight Jay Z’s Roc Nation, have toured around the world on the strength of their first EP Forever, released in 2012, and have gained a sizable following in the process. The 11 track debut does not disappoint that following with familiar records, like hit single “Forever” ,and current single “The Wire,” as well as new cuts like “Honey & I” and title track “Days Are Gone.”
In a pop music landscape full of electronic inspired dance music, Haim stands out from the rest of the pack with a fresh take on modern pop music. Starting with their use of live instruments, of which each member plays, the sound falls somewhere between Terence Trent D’Arby and Fleetwood Mac, while retaining the full identity and youthful energy of the Californian sisters.
The trio’s down to earth, anti-celebrity image shines through with this album, and each record demonstrates why the band has taken the music world by storm in the past year. What could be described as an autobiographical album, Days Are Gone encompasses the experience of the young adult today, while staying true to the sound that catapulted the band to stardom.
Below we give our track-by-track take of Haim’s debut effort.
The album opens with “Falling,” an ‘80’s inspired track that sets the tone sonically and thematically for an album driven by reflection, love, and empowerment. The song begins with ominous drums, a funky bass line and soft synth strings with Danielle Haim leading the way declaring, “I give a little into the moment like I’m standing at the edge…but no one’s gonna turn me around, just one more step I can let go.” This is just the tip of the iceberg of the intelligent lyricism of the band that taps directly into the consciousness of listener, while sharing their deepest feelings of desires on the cusp of being realized. The backdrop of an up-tempo beat does not diminish the message of the song, and this winning combination gives the song a high replay value. (9/10)
Lead single “Forever” captures the full essence of losing love and longing in Los Angeles. An open letter to an ex-lover, the songspeaks of the effort exerted to make a doomed relationship work. This retrospective tune makes you want to cry and dance at the same time, but also gives a voice to a feeling many experience. The success of the record is a testament to its relatability. (9.5/10)
Current single “The Wire” follows with a vintage groove that speaks directly to a soon to be ex, opening with the line, “You know I’m bad at communication, it’s the hardest thing for me to do.” This directness and honesty gives listeners an insight into their mind, while they send a message of strength to the listener stating, “Always keep your heart locked tight, don’t let your mind rebel.” Entertainment with substance. (7.5/10)
Next up is “If I Could Change Your Mind.” The sisters sing of love and the youthful mistakes that come with it. The song is an intimate portrait of longing for what could have been, and living with the repercussions of tough choices. The track has the signature danceable vibe and is easy to fall in love with. (8.5/10)
“Honey & I” sounds and feels fresh out of the late 60’s, never a bad thing. (7.5/10)
“Don’t Save Me” This anthem speaks of the dichotomy of love, heart versus mind, and the struggle that ensues. Proclaiming, “Don’t save me, if your love isn’t strong,” the song is about wanting to be loved, but realizing your worth and the value of one’s time. Many people long for love, but knowing if the love is true is half of the battle, this song is for those going through that struggle. (10/10
At the halfway point, with the title track “Days Are Gone,” the dance party continues as the trio sings a retrospective tale of past love and lost dreams. The sound inspired by the power pop of the late 70- early 80’s that would make Donna Summer proud, feels new while borrowing from the soundscape of an era that preceded the band. The track displays the trio’s strength of pulling from the past while sounding fresh, another high replay value record. (8/10)
“My Song 5” is a rough and dirty record that is guaranteed to have heads bobbing. With a very hip-hop sensibility, the minimal drums, aggressive guitar riffs and dirty synths feel right over the melodic voices of the trio. The record is a nice break from the up-tempo dance tracks, and is a great segue to the closing third of the album. (9/10)
“Go Slow” a cut which showed up on the band’s first EP, gets a fresh reworking for the studio album. The introspective, brooding and powerful record speaks of love, passion and the loss of innocence. Arguably the best vocal performance on the album, the song is bitterly honest and lets you in completely uncompromised. (10/10)
“Let Me Go” Tribal drums, straight to the point lyrics and a wicked guitar solo makes for a near perfect record. Signing “'Cause together we are not one, we are nothing,” the truth of a failed love, and knowing when the chain must be broken, the song continues the honesty the Haim sisters share throughout the album. (9.5/10)
“Running If You Call My Name” The album’s swan song tells a tale of leaving the past behind and not looking back. This emotional track empowers listeners to fight the temptation of the past memories and move forward with their lives. Only fault of the record is that it is not long enough. (7.5/10)
Days Are Gone caters directly to Haim’s core audience. The record does not compromise and reach for radio play, and that feeling of honest, organic music is what makes the album great. The lack of differentiation of the overall sound will be something that can be addressed for forthcoming projects, but for their debut, Haim set out to showcase who they were, and what got them to this point, and they did just that Days Are Gone. Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Pick up the album on iTunes and stores everywhere now, and let us know what you think of the album.