You can get the best out of life when you are willing to engage in forgiveness and grant an occasional second chance.
That’s a reminder I could use a little more often. Whether we’re talking about a vegetable I’ve never eaten before or a song by a new artist, I tend to treat any first encounter as an absolute litmus test without room for reassessment.
It’s a great habit when it comes to quickly whipping through a huge swath of new material (a situation more common for songs than vegetables), but not always great for tracking the evolution of an artist.
Which bring us to Haim, a band of singer-songwriter sisters.
I wasn’t a tremendous fan of Haim’s first album, 2013’s Days Are Gone. It had two of the elements of music I love most – namely, tasty guitar riffs and multi-part female harmony – but I just couldn’t connect with it. That wasn’t helped by catching a few videos of truly miserable live performances from the band where they could not reassemble the harmony from the record.
I chalked them up to a flash in the pan and considered them cancelled. On to the next thing!
That’s why it took me a little while to actually listen to any songs from their 2017 sophomore record, Something To Tell You. I thought I already knew enough of Haim’s story to tell you how my listen would end – decidedly uncharmed, mostly underwhelmed.
I was so incredibly wrong.
Something To Tell You is the work of a much surer band than Days Are Gone. While it has a slimmed down sonic palette compared to their debut, what’s left is a greatly refined blast of sunny melodies that evoke Fleetwood Mac and Wilson Phillips, with a touch of Shania Twain’s drama and a pinch of Sara Bareilles’s theatre nerd.
Nowhere is this more apparent to me than on “Want You Back,” which is a perfect blend of those four major touchtones (and, I suspect, major influences) with some of the tightest harmony I’ve heard from the band yet.
Of course, it’s one thing to record a song this tight in the studio. Can they reproduce it live?
Oh, how they can. I’m not even sure which version I love the most! This Live Lounge studio recording (with tons of mugging from the ladies); a slower, subtler version Live on Triple J; or this powerful staged version from Graham Norton – all three with stunning harmony.
I’m so happy I gave Haim another chance so I could fall in love with this song, which might have been my most-played new track of 2017. Or, in the words of the band:
And I had a fear of forgiveness
(Said it from the beginning) I was too proud to say I was wrong
(Said you’d always see me through) but all that time is gone
No more fearing control, I’m ready for the both of us now
This song definitely gets better and better the more I hear it. On your previous post about Alex Lahey (whose album I have voraciously devoured recently!) I clicked through to hear her cover of “Torn”. From that I found HAIM’s cover of “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and absolutely loved it. This post has convinced me to give their whole album a listen.