The L.A.-based Haim sisters’ music is an outgrowth of sounds from the ’80s and ’90s.
Sounds of the old West Coast echo through the songs of Haim. On the trio’s much-hyped debut CD, “Days Are Gone,” they so closely evoke various L.A. sounds of the 1980s, some passages practically amount to quotes.
The song “Forever” flicks through staggered guitar riffs that could have been sampled from Stevie Nicks’ solo hit “Stand Back.” “The Wire” anchors on the same booming drumbeat that gave the Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight” its opening hook, while a slew of guitar lines throughout the disc mimic Lindsay Buckingham’s most silvery licks.
Given that two-thirds of those allusions harken back to Fleetwood Mac, it’s no surprise that the three young sisters who comprise Haim (rhymes with time) have tried to downplay the connection. They say they’re just as influenced by 1990s R&B acts like En Vogue and TLC.
To further their case, they’ve collaborated, live or on an album, with stars as far afield and contemporary as Kid Cudi and Cee Lo Green. Haim has signed with Jay Z’s Rock Nation Management.
While these L.A.-based siblings (Este, Danielle and Alana Haim) may be on target about having an R&B connection, I think they got their decades screwed up. Their entry point to the genre clearly dates from the ’80s.
Haim’s ‘Days Are Gone’
They draw from the superslick production of period songs by Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Michael McDonald and even Phil Collins. The booming drumbeat in “Don’t Save Me” could have been found floating amid his “In the Air Tonight.” And throughout you’ll hear the impact that New Wave’s slapping percussion style had on “Dynasty”-era R&B.
The gloppiness of the sound slickens and distances Haim’s music. It’s a hyper-produced and highly echoed approach, far removed from the more immediate and deep sounds of ’60s and ’70s L.A.
It doesn’t help that the women’s voices can be pale. At their weakest, they recall the wavering harmonies of Wilson Phillips. On the other hand, at least they have their own inflections. They sputter rather than soothe.
Better, Haim’s melodies catch the ear at every turn. The trio clearly know how to round a chorus, making it instantly singable. Their compositions rank with another young woman mining vintage pop sounds of late: Diane Birch.
If Haim’s particular effort doesn’t merit all the drooling press surrounding them, it does make their debut a light and fun nostalgic run.