The window is the most obvious of visual metaphors, eyes being the window to the soul and all that. I mention this because LA rock-pop trio Haim’s debut album could’ve been called ‘Music To Stare Through Windows To’. It’s got that introspective quality encapsulated by a particular seam of mid-80s music videos featuring a tousled haired youth tracing a raindrop down a window pane. But, more than that, it burns with the associated pleasure in staring out a window in a manner of a tousled haired youth tracing a raindrop down a window pane. It’s wholly self-aware in its hungry embrace of a vulnerable moment. This is what that feeling feels like, it seems to sigh. Now I know.
‘Days Are Gone’, the much better title the three sisters went with, tills fertile land: a place where emotions are free to germinate, to marinate. It’s music that celebrates a strain of emotional exploration often shoved out of view by cynicism’s dominance of the contemporary mindset. There is room for revelling, for wallowing and – perhaps surprisingly given the flowery way in which they’ve been marketed – for steeling the nerves. That metallic edge is important: the steel-toed, purple funk of My Song 5 is about as far away as you could get from the saccharine turns of singles Forever and Falling, which had initially pegged them as too fluffy for my taste. I had that image knocked out of my head at this year’s Øya Festival where they shredded, screeched (soulfully) and surreptitiously had me eating my words.
Happily, Haim are a whole lot more interesting than those catchy, if a little empty, singles suggested. The drum-led Let Me Go, which could be My Song 5’s whiskey-swilling sister, shudders and creaks under the controlling grip of an outside influence. At the other end of the spectrum, the breathy riffs of Go Slow and Honey & I tentatively dare to have faith in a future. Okay, it’s a future already laid out by Fleetwood Mac, but does that undo the feeling? It’s the topic of the day, if not the decade: a lot of contemporary music sounds like music that has come before it. The friction in embracing something that is so unashamedly in conversation with the past is undeniable – it jars with our image of ourselves as future-building beings. But the past, like the future, is part of us and dialogue is understandable.
On ‘Days Are Gone', Haim might not push musical boundaries but they excel at pushing emotional buttons. They play like they mean it. Or maybe they play like what they once imagined it’s like to play like they mean it. Either way, it's not hard to believe in their believing, to get caught up in the rush of emotion. If you’ve ever tweeted a lyric, stared out a window with a look that a 20th century novelist would describe as forlorn, or played a song three times in a row to cling onto a memory, then you’ll probably enjoy spending some time with ‘Days Are Gone’.
Polydor released Haim's debut album Days Are Gone on 30th September 2013.