Saturday, 5 October 2013

Haim - Days Are Gone (Album Review)

Three sisters from Los Angeles are keeping the spirit of Fleetwood Mac (circa 1987) alive (in a good way). Este, Danielle and Alana have pitched their band somewhere between late 80s soft rock and modern girl band vibes to create something unique for début album Days Are Gone. To capture the mood, Falling is the perfect opener, a wonderful structure combining pop and R&B with 'hand-clap' percussion, plenty of echo, and a funky chorus. The guitars halfway are cool sublime. Forever continues the great start, with more punchy vocals, and another cool chorus. It is clear why the band has earned the FM tag. Another early highlight is If I Could Change Your Mind - one of the best vocals on the album and excellent guitar work. The chorus is simply wonderful, sparkling and pure 80s. Don't Save Me is the other highlight and an excellent single; a breathtaking hook into a flowing chorus, with verses that glide and soar.

It's not all good news. The Wire sounds more like Debbie Gibson (remember her?) before the 'Broadway' years. That said, it is another beautifully constructed song. The title track, with falsetto backing vocals and over-production just about hits the mark but is more like a long forgotten All Saints album track; as more great guitars hold it all together. A strange departure into dark brooding R&B arrives with My Song 5 and what should be hard-hitting feels like a lame slap. Let Me Go isn't much better, but closer to the sound we would expect. And thankfully Days Are Gone doesn't lose its great start, as Running If You Call My Name is the (very) late highlight to finish.

Days Are Gone is an impressive début from a band with a huge future ahead of them. A refined sound could settle critics but the association with McVie and Nicks vocally and lyrically, and Fleetwood/Buckingham stylistically, is a huge positive rather than a corrosive influence. There is more individuality here than people realise. On the whole, a hugely enjoyable album.
-- CS

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