Something Good to Listen to?
The Haim sisters have finally released their second album, Something to Tell You, some four years after their debut, Days Are Gone, appeared. During the gap years between releases, the three sisters have used their impressive concert appearances to keep themselves prominent in the pop world. Is the new album good enough to confirm the enduring popularity of Haim’s distinctive brand of well-crafted and genuinely entertaining pop-rock? Time will tell, I suppose, but let’s have a listen for ourselves and see what we hear, so to speak.
At one level, the new album has many of the same strengths as its predecessor. The problem is that instead of building on those strengths it strives too hard to be an up-to-date studio collection. Given their associations with major pop stars like Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris, Haim were surely bound to be influenced by today’s pop scene. The unfortunate outcome, though, is that the sisters have allowed their influences to pull them away from their own distinctive path.
Too Much Studio Trickery
The heavy-handed imposition of currently fashionable production quirks further hobbles the songs, some of which are otherwise enjoyable and hook-laden. This means that the good ideas behind songs like“Found It in Silence”
and “Ready for You” are fatally undermined by overproduction and unappealing studio gimmickry. Strong performances are sunk by weird vocal fades, tremulous synthesizers, humming panned between your speakers, and so on. You get the (sonic) picture!
Unsurprising, the tracks that work best, like “Kept Me Crying” and “Walking Away,” are ones that have been produced with more restraint. We can’t honestly say that production is entirely to blame, though, because Something to Tell You is also weakened by the band’s failure to grow very much as songwriters. In fairness, if you can live with these flaws, you’ll probably find enough here to enjoy, but the album as a whole is weighed down and sunk by studio clutter.