Contemplating Haim‘s existence means tying the Los Angeles rock stars directly (and existentially) to their illustrious predecessors. That banishes the talented sister trio to a constantly resurrected past they can’t hope to surpass.
Something To Tell You, the follow-up to 2013’s breakout pop smash Days Are Gone, isn’t a grand step forward for Haim. However, there’s a prevailing sense of grandeur—and the good songs are everywhere.
And so the group—lead vocalist Danielle Haim, bassist Este Haim, and guitarist Alana Haim—trudge forward with their second album, pulling listeners’ tears, and the inescapable sonic essences of bands past along for yet another day in the sun.
Four years later, we have life experiences of heartache and built-in pressures to maintain an elevated status quo. Their decision not to swerve away from a tried-and-true formula, but rather attempt to perfect it, renders seasoned songs: For their supposed squeamishness, the trio makes no effort to scatter when the Fleetwood Mac, Wilson Phillips, Heart, or TLC comparison lights are flipped on.
Ariel Rechtshaid (Adele, Usher, Solange) produced Something, wearing the band’s sounds as a proud child wears his firefighter parent’s worn-in helmet. As creative partners, they’ve gleefully added more influences, tailoring them to fit.
Now masters of the big powerful hook, the lead single, “Want You Back,” reaches in the Wilson Phillips/John Waite bag, with its excellent rhythms and electric harmonies. Vintage Fleetwood Mac makes an immediate appearance on “Nothing’s Wrong,” a splashy affair about a couple struggling with honesty, not unlike many tunes detailing Mac’s internal strife with misplaced love.
“Ready For You” rings TLC’s re-emergent bell right out of the ’90s R&B book with its straightforward-as-hell lyrics: “I promise I will treat you right, treat you right, cause that’s all I wanna do.” There’s even a breakdown that recalls George Michael’s “Faith,” keyboard stabs and all.
The album’s standout eponymous track, which sounds like Steve Winwood in the ’80s, expertly details the cringe-worthy and painfully intimate conversation that precedes a breakup. “You Never Knew,” co-written by Dev Hynes (Blood Orange, Lightspeed Champion), also captures that suppressed ache—albeit with Off the Wall-era disco shimmer.
The idiot who didn’t recognize Danielle’s love comes back on “Right Now,” the album’s ominous departure. It folds contemporary R&B with glitzy, retro synths. She burns away any reconciliation efforts, with soft whispers: “What’s that sound? That’s you fading away.”
The album’s constant exploration of troubled relationships is consistently moving and satisfying. The Haim sisters expertly nail down the familiar comfort in hearing something that speaks to everyone—yet remains intimate and personal.