Haim – 'Days Are Gone'
Californian sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim appear on their album cover sitting in deck chairs, wearing sunglasses. They’re taking it easy: something they do a lot of. Even their most bitterly romantic songs like ‘Better Off’ and ‘Forever’ are funkified to the point where the nights spent crying that inspired them are distant memories – or at least have been repressed by piña coladas.
This lightness of tone is a large part of the appeal of ‘Days Are Gone’, the band’s debut album. Haim’s rock-pop sound (think ‘Tango In The Night’-era Fleetwood Mac) is bright and breezy – just like the girls themselves, who’ve managed to keep laughing and joking through the exponentially building hype. They’re a band that actively want to make great pop record, without getting all Kanye West about it.
In this, they’ve been pretty damn successful. ‘Days Are Gone’ is great. Not only does it contain a handful of the most radio-friendly songs of the last few years (‘Forever’, ‘Falling’) it packs in some fantastically crunchy R&B bangers as well. ‘My Song 5’ is the sort of in-your-face female empowerment anthem Beyoncé would go jogging to. More than that, the title track sounds like Des’ree’s ‘You Gotta Be’ if it had been produced by Rick James – catchy as hell, in other words.
The two closing numbers, ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘Running If You Call My Name’, allow the darkness that otherwise lurks the background of the album to come to the fore, and fail to hit the same pitch-perfect pop notes as a result. The other mild disappointment is that the record’s three producers (include Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford) have largely gone for sparklingly clean edits of the songs, sacrificing the enjoyable roughness of earlier, more riotous takes. An early release of ‘The Wire’, for example, sounded like it could have been cut in the ’70s, whereas the new, ultra-modern mix simply purloins Joan Jett’s glam-rock stomp.
Still, its hard to celebrate the album’s listenability and also complain about it sounding too polished. The purists might think Haim have let the studio sessions rub the edges of their raw talent. The rest of us are just going to kick back in the sun with ‘Days Are Gone’ and some piña coladas.
Buy this album here | Read our Haim interview
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Listen to 'Days Are Gone' on Spotify
Watch the video for ‘The Wire’
Here’s what happens when Dreambagsjaguarshoes grows up, packs its bags and moves to Dalston. The Victoria is now owned by the same people as the perennially cool and grungy Shoreditch hangout, and probably represents a mellowing out with age – it’s a pub, it’s more relaxed, it stages live music, and it’s on a backstreet off Dalston Lane instead of the illuminated strip down the road. As a pub, it’s decent – an artily thrown-together look, a few local beers (although not many), and a ‘residency’ from peripatetic grillers Psychic Burger. It’s a misleading name – I sat thinking about what I wanted to eat for half an hour before having to go up and order at the bar in the old-fashioned way. But as US diner food in plastic trays goes, it’s a fine example of its type. Through the back of the pub is the stage, where assorted bands assemble to perform. The Victoria has been a scuzzily democratic live music venue for decades, so it’s great that the new owners kept that going and didn’t turn the room into a dining room/yoga space/Tesco Metro.