October 2, 2013

Test Spins: Haim, Days Are Gone

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By MIKE SOSNICK

Haim, three sisters from the San Fernando Valley, can best be described as if mid-80s female-driven pop was geared for bright SoCal shores more than neon-infused clubs. Ever since last year’s release of their first two singles, “Forever” and “Don’t Save Me,” Haim has been one of the buzziest buzz bands on the internet. Lauded for their soulful yet feminine vocals, masterful harmonizing and feel good songwriting, Haim took off to become the “indie” pop band of the summer. (I use “indie” in quotations because they’re signed to Polydor.) With the release of their highly anticipated debut LP Days Are Gone, we see the sunniest album in recent memory, filled with swinging, genre-blending tracks to relax in the sun to.

The sisters Haim grew up performing: First with their parents, and then as the middling girl group the Valli Girls. Being raised onstage has given Haim an immediate level of polish and musical professionalism that modern buzz bands tend to lack. This glaze allows them to effortlessly blend the disparate genres of R&B, dream pop, pop-rock and surf rock without ever sounding derivative. Moreover, they meld the ’80s and ’90s with the present while still managing to sound timeless. This sheen does at times lead Haim to run the risk of becoming sterile and lifeless, but they combat this by embracing their breeziness in their lifestyles, interviews and performances. The sisters appear to be truly lighthearted people who genuinely want to make smiley, benevolent tunes for gently bobbing crowds. Such sunny bands often have a tendency to loosely ramble, but Haim is an exception. Thanks to tight songwriting, compact percussion and exceedingly light production touches, the tracks on Days Are Gone never unravel. Instead, they stay catchy and infectious, like the airy, bouncy chorus of “Falling,” the bright guitars of “Honey & I” and the sparse, spacey drawl of “Go Slow.”

Despite Haim’s polish, firmness and well-defined sound, each track on the LP has its own distinct character; from the hard rock of “Let Me Go” to the inspirational effervescence of “Running If You Call My Name,” the album never becomes boring or repetitive. Track by track, the record is jam-packed with compelling tunes. But when taken as a single project, Days Are Gone cements Haim’s serious musical identity with a breezy album that’s above all, incredibly fun.

Mike Sosnick is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at msosnick@cornellsun.com. 

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