Days Are Gone, 2013

Nico here. Mr. Struggan wanted me to get back into writing album reviews, so I chose Haim’s debut album Days Are Gone, which recently debuted at Number 6 on the Billboard 200 and Number 1 on the UK Albums Chart. Unknowingly, I saw Haim’s lead singer, Danielle Haim, perform with Julian Casablancas at 9:30 Club in January 2010 while he was touring on Phrazes For The Young (2009). Composed of Danielle, her two sisters, Este and Alana, and drummer Dash Hutton, the band brings a lot of musical experience and talent to the table. In a dearth of popular rock groups, they are successful in quenching a thirst for mainstream music made by musicians who play instruments, while also not being unfairly relegated to a “girl band” category. Haim is the rock band for the Rookie Magazine generation.

My favorite thing about Haim’s music is that its core is relatable power pop. The songs are about relationships and romance, equally confident and insecure. The music is slickly produced and draws from a lot of pop influences, but their lyrics are unpolished, which makes them believable. As they are not completely formed, I am excited about the group’s ability to grow, as opposed to being over-marketed and packaged in different colored wrappers. Happily, they don’t seem to be conflicted like Taylor Swift (always sad), Miley Cyrus (tongue), or Lady Gaga (transparent desire to be taken seriously). The troubles they draw from are fairly average, which creates a relatability unseen in a pop landscape overflowing with theatrical sets and costume budgets.

On “The Wire,” eclectic, non-abrasive guitars and percussion remind me of Vampire Weekend. The song has a great ability to get stuck in my head. Though well-crafted and recorded, there is room for deeper and more specific themes. The songs don’t convey any mental image. What movie is this the soundtrack to?

As Larry Fitzmaurice’s review of Days Are Gone notes, the band’s slick production, marketing and matching haircuts could make it easy for listeners to dismiss them. After all, they are managed by Jay Z’s RocNation. As a periphery-member of Hov’s artist portfolio, Haim is still finding their sound, and has been given room to find success in their own way. But, as fellow RocNation signee Wale’s The Gifted (2013) shows, ”doing your own thing” and even releasing a Number 1 album does not garner greatness or the mantle of “classic”. These sounds for the time are not necessarily timeless.

Mr. Struggan sends his Regards.