After their 2013 debut showed us a sound distinct from other acts in today’s popular music, HAIM has now turned to elements of old school pop-rock and R&B on their highly anticipated sophomore album, Something to Tell You. The sister-trio has established power hooks and catchy melodies as a staple of their work, but despite their upbeat nature, this new record allows for introspection with themes like heartbreak, distance, and change. Something to Tell You is the realization of the shifts in a relationship and the search for a better understanding of self.
“Right Now,” one of the strongest tracks on the record, gives us a glimpse of this new side of HAIM, which many might not be familiar with. The band experiments with the idea of space in this meticulously structured track, with Danielle’s vocals being carried over minimal drum patterns and a few bars on the piano, slowly building with dreamy synth and the hum of microphones. She sardonically sings, “You had me hanging on a dream you never believed/you gave me your word,” and seconds after, the track explodes in a sonic boom. The intensity then subdues into the words “somehow it’s so clear now,” inviting us to listen to her thoughts in this reflective process.
Throughout the album, HAIM continues to demonstrate their skill in creating complex percussive and vocal rhythms, a technique evident in “Want You Back” and “Little of Your Love.”
Most cuts are dynamic with layered arrangements and polished production. The sisters have approached this album with a modern perspective by implementing vocal manipulations and pitch shifts. However, this may diminish the authenticity of their sound (subtracting these elements might make for a more solid album.) This is apparent in “Ready For You,” a sensory overload of unexpected transitions and studio effects, which result in a song that is very hit or miss.
“Something to Tell You” does not disappoint as the title track, offering strong counterpoint melodies and harmonies. The track acknowledges that change can create an imbalance between two people, with phrases like “even when it was looking up for us/it was difficult to pretend.”
“You Never Knew,” co-written by Dev Hynes, is the highlight of the album and a prime example of their unique sound. Reminiscent of 80s-era Fleetwood Mac, the jangly instrumentation follows a formula similar to the likes of Lindsey Buckingham. “Go on and say it, was my love too much for you take/I guess you never knew what was good for you,” are lyrics that portray the newfound confidence in a love lost.
While remaining true to their vision, HAIM took several risks with Something to Tell You, experimenting with an array of new sounds and a more reflective tone. The result, however, was a carefully crafted and well executed album that was definitely worth the wait.
By Emily Afre