Sunday, September 29, 2013

Album Review | HAIM - Days Are Gone

HAIM might as well be the new word for hype, as Danielle, Este, and Alana -- the Haim sisters --have picked up roaring (and deserved) accolades, starting with the release of "Forever" and "Don't Save Me" in 2012, and continuing with "Falling" and "The Wire" in 2013, the latter which begins similarly to The Eagles' "Heartache Tonight." (Seriously, though: is that simply a nod, or a blatant rip-off? I wanna know.)

And this is the way the game is played these days -- flirt with an EP, bring roses to the door with more "singles," and then finally release a full-length album, with the hope that you haven't suffocated your targeted audience's attention span. The problem with this marketing -- if you want to call it that (and sadly, music is basically strategic bullshit in 2013) -- is that often we're given the best of what is to come, and for many, HAIM's debut LP, Days Are Gone, is going to be old news.

Of course, that doesn't change the instant charm of "Forever" or "Falling," both songs being unquestioned gems on this album, but it does make the majority of the "new" material, like "If I Could Change Your Mind" and "Honey & I," seem pedestrian, with the exception of the title track, which is playfully pleasant, and "My Song 5," which isn't calculated and shows grit.

We're left with three songs to finish the album. The first is "Go Slow," which was released previously and, again, gives a strong nod to a classic song, this time to Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More." The version on Days Are Gone sounds slightly re-worked, or perhaps the vocals have simply been re-mixed. Whatever the case, it's still killer; unfortunately, the final two unreleased songs, "Let Me Go" and "Running If You Call My Name," both lack a killer punch, and fail to continue any momentum that has been built.

I'll admit that my opinion is highly based on what I've heard previously (I think that's obvious, but it's important to note, as I highly respect the talent here, which I can assure you is legit in a live setting).

Which, of course, begs the question: Can an album leave a mark on a listener when he or she has already heard its best parts? I guess we'll have to see, and if this is your first introduction to HAIM, you're likely to be impressed. But gone are the days of surprises as we cradle toward even more immediacy, and a feeling persists: that less teasing could have meant so much more for Days Are Gone.


  1. "And this is the way the game is played these days -- flirt with an EP, bring roses to the door with more "singles," and then finally release a full-length album, with the hope that you haven't suffocated your targeted audience's attention span."

    In the old days, this is what was called building a sustainable career. See: The Who, The Beatles, The Rooling Stones, every punk rock band ever, Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, etc....

  2. Thanks for reading. I wasn't around back then, but neither was the Internet. So, I'm not sure that's a good comparison. But what the hell do I know. All I'm saying is that perhaps it's better to wait.

  3. I think the point he was trying to drive home is that this isn't a new strategy. If anything, it's THE OLDEST strategy. And, as someone who's been following them since early 2012, I'm delighted that the material I'm already familiar with is mixed together with material I'm not. There's no sense in releasing an album and not bringing your best stuff to the game.

  4. An old strategy in a more immediate, convenient environment? Fair enough.

  5. Jason, I think the old strategy is a good fight against "a more immediate, convenient environment" that tends to burn out bands before they get a chance to actually establish themselves and grow. that's all.

  6. Regarding music strategies: the music ladnscape has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Strategy must change as well.

    Regarding HAIM: saw them last year at GOTR. They owned it.

    Regarding that video: it looks like bad student work. The song is meh.

  7. Right on. I guess I would just leave it at releasing one or two songs before the full-length. In HAIM's case, that's probably hindsight, because they didn't know the attention that was coming. Of course, this is all my opinion.

  8. Do you really like this strategy, though? I guess that's what I'm asking. Do you want to hear the best songs before you listen to the full album?

  9. I guess it's weird to argue that the times call for immediacy and convenience, and then groan when songs you've already heard wind up on a band's debut album. The full-length album, if anything, is an antiquated notion.

  10. Do you want to hear the best songs before you listen to the full album?

    This is a fair point, I guess. What might be disappointing now might seem like a great idea in five years, when you want to hear all these songs in one place and not dig around for singles and eps to find them. Haim is aiming for longevity. Not October 2013.

  11. Totally agree with you. The hype is so well deserved but the album release would be even more incredible if they'd saved some of it for this moment. Still, a genuine talent.

  12. You know you've hit the pinnacle of music-nerdom when you argue “music strategy” in the comment section of a blog.

    That said – let’s talk about music strategy. Things were much different back in the days of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who -- they released singles, sold at record shops, and made millions off of songs before they ever hit records, usually with a B-side not included on the album itself. Albums were release yearly, and included two or three of the singles, which were released either pre-album or post-album, in most cases.

    In the modern era – EPs have become one of the most profitable, and preferred means of getting quick hits out to the masses, because bands, for the most part, release albums every two years or so…

    I think what Jason was getting at, is that it’s odd to go into an album review, especially a debut album, and know 90% of the material already. Add the fact that the additional items on the album are more-or-less filler, and you have something that sounds like it should have been released six months ago as a kickass EP. The fans would still buy and go to shows and all is good.

    Instead – you've shown all your cards and hooked fans into paying $20 for the vinyl version of your extended EP (I realize that’s two extendeds in a row.)

    On a different subject – anyone else see Portishead's Geoff Barrow compared “The Wire” to a Shania Twain song? Totally ruined it for me…it’s now all I hear…