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Every week, we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week’s album is Something to Tell You, the sophomore album from Haim.
The hype over Haim’s 2013 debut Days Are Gone, saw them painted as a revolutionary group making popular indie rock (gasp) in a sea of dudes, and saddled them with the kind of ridiculous expectations that we’d only apply to a group of female musicians. Before we get to their fantastic second full-length Something To Tell You, let’s get a few things things clear. What Haim isn’t: some earth-shattering feminist statement or genre-busting musical pioneers. What Haim is: three brilliant musicians capable of writing, recording and performing really good pop rock that will knock your socks off and force you to have fun for once, jesus. And through indefinable authenticity and raw talent, they’ve more than mastered their craft on Something To Tell You.
Something to Tell You is an album built on its contagious hooks, the kind that make you feel like you’re losing your mind. Hooks this good are rare—the kind you can’t scratch off your skin, the kind you mouth under a muffling hand in a crowded elevator, the kind that embed themselves into the back of your mind until they make their way to your tongue and into your bones.The key to making Something To Tell You one of the most enjoyable experiences of your summer—the key to it enhacinging all of your window-down drives down windy country roads from here on out—is not to fight it. The long-held sentiment that hooks are gimmicky and “girl group” pop rock is dorky is officially canceled. While coolness culture might have snuffed out the relative success of groups like the Bangles or Wilson Phillips and given their music an air of “guilty pleasure” around it, it’s 2017 and we’ve all learned to chill enough to appreciate that Haim’s making some good-ass music. If you think you’re too good to shake your hips to the infectious chorus (and its complementary wonky vocal breakdown bridge) of “Ready For You,” get out of my sight, I’m trying to have a good time.
It’s no wonder Haim can so easily get under your skin and stay there, if you let them. Rather than being some bombshell breakthrough in indie rock, it’s as if Haim has taken delicious elements of both successful and written-off pop and rock that deserve a second chance: the bass-driven and guitar-twanged melodies of '70s disco, rock and country, the synths and musical spaciousness of '80s ballads, the perfect femme harmonies favored by '90s pop and R&B. Everything’s at their disposal, and nothing’s off limits. All this compiled alongside a modern pop sound—nurtured by expert production from the likes of Ariel Rechtshaid, Dev Hynes and Rostam Batmanglij—and confidence more boundless than their first album means a perfect storm.
Alana Haim told Rolling Stone that once the band got on a songwriting roll, the songs came to them by the hundreds, “like vomit.” And that’s how the songs translate on this album: visceral, natural, authentic, unfiltered—it’s what makes it track after track of fire. The lyrics, like on the lead song “Want You Back” or dreamy synth bop “You Never Knew,” often favor the same straightforward, unapologetic honesty the allows their musical approach: “I need to you hear you say it, was my love too much for you to take? / I guess you never knew what was good for you.” Other tracks, like cathedral-sized, goosebump-covered slow jam “Night So Long,” deal with more nuanced themes like the isolation of feeling alone in a crowd, the double-edged sword of solidarity: “In loneliness, my only friend / In loneliness, my only fear.”
Regardless of a track’s candor or poeticness, its level of minimalism or dance-inducing solo shedding, its throwback embrace or pop-y modernity, Something To Tell You pulls together every bit and gets into your head in a way that makes you want to keep it there. Perhaps it’s their sisterly bond or the fact that they write their own music, but each piece just has the components of a really well-done song, partnered with the bone-deep genuineness, chemistry and charm to pull it off.
Amileah Sutliff is a New York-based writer, editor and creative producer and an editor of the book The Best Record Stores in the United States.
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