Haim – Something to Tell You review

It’s been four years since Este, Danielle and Alana Haim first daz­zled the world with their spe­cial kind of soul-infused, retro pop-rock. Every year of their absence since the release of Days Are Gone has been felt. Per­haps the weight of expec­ta­tion, fol­low­ing the well-deserved plau­dits for their bril­liant debut, left them in no rush to release a sopho­more. In the mean­time, the sis­ters could be seen on tour, mak­ing comedic cameos, col­lab­o­rat­ing with Calvin Har­ris, and as part of the line-up for Sat­ur­day Night Live’s 40th anniver­sary cel­e­bra­tion, along­side the likes of the late, great Prince.

The errant sib­lings are back this sum­mer with Some­thing to Tell You. Album open­er and first sin­gle ‘Want You Back’ is a strong indi­ca­tor of the project as a whole. It con­tin­ues where they left off: sol­id and inge­nious­ly sim­ple song­writ­ing, skil­ful­ly arranged. Days Are Gone was an intim­i­dat­ing­ly impres­sive debut. Some­thing doesn’t give the same instant-yet-long-last­ing rush, but nei­ther is it too far-off. One advan­tage it has over its pre­de­ces­sor is even more lyri­cal matu­ri­ty. The girls no longer rely so much on the poet­ry of sound. Their lyrics are more considered.

Mid­dle sis­ter, lead vocal­ist and cool chick arche­type, Danielle’s now imme­di­ate­ly recog­nis­able con­tral­to dom­i­nates more than ever. It’s per­fect­ly suit­ed to the melan­choly defi­ance that has come to typ­i­fy the sis­ters’ out­put. Top­i­cal­ly, the girls haven’t strayed far from their go-to romance theme. But there is a lit­tle twist. Some­thing to Tell You plays like par­al­lel, non-chrono­log­i­cal accounts of a stormy love affair that take diver­gent cours­es – Slid­ing Doors meets Eter­nal Sun­shine of the Spot­less Mind, if you will. Love is sought, won and (soon to be) lost. Depend­ing on which time­line is fol­lowed, either rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is on the hori­zon (‘Ready for You’, ‘Want You Back’) or there is res­olute accep­tance it could nev­er be.

The sparse and ele­giac out­ro, ‘Night So Long’, fol­lows that rue­ful tra­jec­to­ry. Lyri­cal­ly, it has the melo­dra­mat­ic res­ig­na­tion of The Car­pen­ters’ ‘Good­bye to Love’ or jazz stan­dard, ‘I’m Thru with Love’. Else­where, one par­ty is in con­stant, heart-break­ing denial (‘Nothing’s Wrong’ and the fab­u­lous gat­ed-drum extrav­a­gan­za that is the title track). Still, a famil­iar resilience pre­vails on ambi­ent coup de maître, ‘Right Now’, a great show­case of the sis­ters’ mul­ti-instru­men­tal abil­i­ties. ‘You Nev­er Knew’ – Haim’s most overt nod to Tan­go in the Night-era Fleet­wood Mac – and anthem to new­ly appre­ci­at­ed inde­pen­dence ‘Found It in Silence’ are sim­i­lar­ly plucky. It’s so good you had more to tell us, ladies. You’ve been missed.


Some­thing to Tell You is out now on Haim Productions/Polydor Records.

If you like this artist, check out: Warpaint; Court­ney Barnett

Image: cour­tesy of Haim