Haim sisters make waves on surfer sourced, immersive debut

By Grace Kelly / Staff Writer


Days Are Gone

Grade: A-

Sounds Like: LA pop band meets Fleetwood Mac

With much of the new pop music produced either blending into ubiquitous obscurity or hitting high marks through media promotion, it can be hard to find refreshingly original music that makes it big. But the Haim sisters quietly break that trend with their debut album Days Are Gone, appealing to a burgeoning pop crowd without sacrificing a laid-back, LA surfer-sourced sound.

Haim is comprised of Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, a trio of sisters whose Southern California upbringing and debut album evokes images of shredding pavement and washing down long recording days with a vegan smoothie in one hand and a Corona in the other.

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, the sisters grew up as part of a musical unit, as their parents headed a family band that played covers at local fairs. While the sisters went through school, they retained their interest in music, and each sister held various roles in a variety of local bands. They eventually came back together and formed the core of the band that bears their surname. Theirs was a lifestyle revolving around music, but unlike many frantic, fame-motivated artists, Haim took things slow quietly releasing of a couple of singles  and an E.P. over the course of 2012 culminating in the official release of its debut album, Days Are Gone. There was no “discovery” process and no Justin Bieber-esque thrust into the spotlight — just old-fashioned hard work that slowly brought recognition to a talented band.

With Days Are Gone, Haim pairs dusky vocals with nonchalant lyrics in such a way that invites the listener to become immersed in the deep tracks, rather than forcing the music on them. This is the kind of music you listen to through your ear-wrapping headphones in an oversized button-down and floppy beanie — in essence, passive, laid-back music.

The songs don’t start out with head-banging introductions, but rather work with a textured beat that forms the platform for the mellow but charged vocals.

The album opens with two of the most ear-catching songs, “Falling” and “Forever.” “Forever” starts with a tinny, island-sounding beat reminiscent of a Laguna Beach tiki bar, something that oddly works. The song then focuses and centralizes with Haim’s dusky vocals and a deep beat that pumps up the action of the song, drawing the listener into swaying rhythms. This song is a direct harkening back to the Southern California background of Haim, employing an extremely layered, echoed sound that picks up and even harkens to a sort of Rusted Root “Send Me on My Way”-inspired tune.

There is also a sense of throwback to the 1980s, with echoing synths and textured, throbbing beats that create a layered sense of depth, similar to the music of Joan Jett and perhaps a touch of Madonna. Neither flashy nor dull, Haim straddles a line between pop and lounge music, producing chill tracks that invite the listener to fall into their soothing chords, but doesn’t completely leave you laissez-faire, jacking things up on songs such as “My Song 5” and “The Wire.”

There’s an appealing mix of slow and fast, of calm and crashing. Jagged guitar chords amp up “The Wire,” while other songs such as “Honey & I” smooth out and have a calmer, melodic tune. Haim is considered a part of the pop genre, but draws influence from ’80s chords, R&B beats and a nu-folk backdrop. SoCal sunny days, surfing, skateboarding, rollerblading and blacktop concerts are some images that the band’s music brings to life. Through their music, Haim shows a lifestyle that is both laid-back and also carries a charge that brings out imaginative energy, culminating in appealing songs that you will hum as you walk down the street.

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