Think about all that has happened in four years. I’ve aged four years, you’ve aged four years, HAIM have aged four years. Crazy…
But really…a corporate megalomaniac has become the leader of the free world for starters, the Jays, Leafs and Raptors have become relevant in the world of sports after being a joke for nearly a decade, and numerous bands have come to be, broken up, gone on hiatus, or just haven’t released work. (LOOKING AT YOU VAMPIRE WEEKEND)
Okay, I know you know how time works and you’re familiar with the idea of change, but this attempted review will be going against everything I stand for as a music fan. One, as a point to be made to future Fab, but also, as a point to all the humans who continue to claim one listen is even close to enough to like a song/album. It’s been 4 years since HAIM have released music, and me in all of my ignorance, will be judging them on one listen! Ah, nothing like the brazenness of a music “blogger”.
So the problem with the first listen, is everything is completely fresh. You’re trying to listen to hooks, catchy melodies, inventive rhythms. You’re trying to find a lyrical quip or an album idiosyncrasy that is unique and refreshing. You’re trying to see if they’ve grown from their debut or if its more of the same. And I think this is to much to bear in one listen. It becomes too difficult to take all of this into consideration and also simultaneously like the music.
Tracks like “Right Now”, “Little of Your Love”, and “Want You back”, were my favourites on the first complete album listen. But they’re also the songs that were pre-released, and ones I’ve been listening to. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I still stand by my active participant claim, and if you can’t sing along or jam to a song it’s usually not that enjoyable.
So what did I pick up on my first listen? Well, initially It seemed like “Something to Tell You” was composed of the same DNA as “Days are Gone”, but upon the album progressing that became less and less true. Sure the lyrical tropes, vocal harmonies, and style of storytelling is the same as its predecessor, but the inspiration and influence here are very different. We get moments of funk on tracks “Little of Your Love”, and “You Never Know”, but then splashes of country and southern rock on tracks like “Nothings Wrong”.
But the most inventive, and memorable moments on this record came by way of “Keep Me Crying” and “Walking Away”, which just happen to be produced by the “magic man” Rostam Batmanglij(formerly of Vampire Weekend).
HAIM are no doubt absurdly talented, and a lot of the time It feels like they hide behind their pop rock roots and play it safe. But when pushed and shoved, they create inventive guitar lines, solos, and powerful moments of percussion and funk. Their talent seeps through the pours of the music, and when you get those moments, you remember why “Days are Gone” was such a refreshing addition to the music world. My favourite version of HAIM, is funky HAIM, and their are quite a few doses of that dispersed on the album. Whether it be via some slap bass, or a drum machine giving off that hip hop vibe, Hip Master HAIM is running with it and making it work.
Aside from the funk, HAIM work very well when they lower the BPM and give you some space. The last three tracks on the album are noticeably slower, and I remember liking that.
It’s extremely hard to remember specifics when you’ve limited yourself to one listen. Special moments, and album traits are difficult to retain off of one listen, and the deeper I go into this review the more I realize how tantalizing a task this really is. And, also, how uninformative it is from a readers standpoint. This is not a review that is truly indicative of the music that the 3 piece has created, and that’s why I plan on writing a follow up review once I’ve sat, cradled with, and snuggled with this album. Once I’ve experienced it driving, at the gym, while doing errands and while crying. Did I write crying…I meant…drying…the dishes.
The general conclusion, is that nothing was immediately satisfying or eye opening. The songs had many layers, and that was never gonna boast well for immediate inclusion. There were small moments that I remember and can’t wait to experience again, but If i was someone who was recommended this, and actually only gave it one listen, I’d report back saying “I didn’t really like it, nothing stuck out to me”.
Although influences are different and the DNA is not a perfect match, Something to Tell You is definitely of the same ancestry as their debut. Stay tuned for the real review, but take this is as a plea to stop listening to music once. They took four years to release this LP, the least you can do is give it an honest and fair chance.