Haim’s story is a familiar one. Band burst on to scene. Everyone loves band. Debut album is a mega hit! Band succumbs to difficult second album pressure. Buzz around band dwindles.
To be fair to the Haim sisters, some serious personal shit – namely their manager and Danielle Haim’s boyfriend Ariel Reichstad’s cancer diagnosis – between album one and two set them back both physically (they wanted to wait for his recovery to record) and mentally (dealing with cancer takes its toll on those around the person in recovery too). Not wanting to speak out about it at the time, fans grew frustrated with the long wait between records and when finally their follow-up ‘Something To Tell You’ was released in 2017, it didn’t quite land as their debut had (not that a Billboard No.7 is anything to be sniffed at).
Three years later, the band are again gearing up to release a new record, the aptly titled ‘Women In Music Part III’. The six tracks we’ve heard from it so far showcase a wonderfully different Haim.
First single ‘Summer Girl’ is a wonky pop masterpiece with a meandering Velvets bassline so reminiscent of Lou Reed, they decided to give him a credit.
Follow up, ‘Now I’m In It’ – the Haimiest of the tracks we’ve heard to date – all fast-talking, synthy greatness, details Danielle’s battle with depression, her sisters the pillars of strength she needed to support her when she finally realised “now i’m in it”.
Next comes ‘Hallelujah’, a heart wrenching (it’ll genuinely make you weep) tale of struggle and loss and sisterly bonds so raw it leaves you pausing for breath.
‘The Steps’, (a personal favourite) is a track that could be straight out of 1970s Laurel Canyon with a rolling bassline that tootles around your head all day. Danielle’s pounding drums and lyrics about fucking up “Every time I think that I’ve been taking the steps/You end up mad at me for making a mess”, speaking to anyone who’s ever been in a relationship that’s going down the pan, unable to stop it from doing so.
‘I Know Alone’ is a glitchy, club track about post-tour loneliness. Once again, it shows the sisters’ versatility and ability to lend themselves, authentically, to almost any genre. It has a great socially-distanced video to boot.
“We’ve both had nights in strangers’ beds/but I don’t wanna give up on you” sings Danielle on sixth single, ‘Don’t Wanna’. The track clings on to remnants of a messy relationship, over one of Haim’s signature killer riffs and 4/2 drumbeat.
Haim’s whole vibe with this record, possibly after the pressure of being hounded for their last, is to make and release songs as they materialise, without being slave to any label-driven timetable. The story goes they’d recorded ‘Summer Girl’, produced it and made a video before the label had any idea they were even in the studio. They put it out that week without worrying about what the finished product of the entire record would sound like.
In some ways, it’s a very 2020 way of working, streaming culture being less about the album, and more about track-by-track success. Perhaps more so than that, though, it’s Haim de-stressing, having fun and making music on a timescale that allows healing and pause for breath. The new-found freedom is radiating out of everything they do and we cannot wait to hear more.