Days Are Gone is HAIM’s debut album and one I was really keen to hear. With comparisons to Fleetwood Mac the LA group seem to be generating hype all over the place at the moment, playing festivals worldwide and selling out venues anywhere you care to think of. For reference, their name when pronounced should rhyme with ‘time’.
Opening track ‘Falling’ has a great 90’s R&B vibe to it. The muted guitar line and funk bass had me foot-tapping almost immediately. The vocal mixes swapping between left and right channels and the bursts of backing vocals worked really well and paved the way for what to expect throughout the album; bright, familiar and melodic.
‘Forever’ maintains the guitar and bass work from the album opener paired with some nice keys. To my ears it’s a smooth mash-up of folk-meets-funk and it works really, really well. The track sounds really bright and well polished with the guitar break half way through building nicely into a clap-along pre-chorus. One to be enjoyed live I’d imagine and sets the scene perfectly for the first change of the album into ‘The Wire’. It’s a different guitar tone, more crunch this time round and what a song it is! I can see what the hype is about so far – it’s such a refreshing composition and although more stripped back than the opening tracks, still sounds magnificent and ‘very HAIM’.
Moving on to ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’ and the band take the retro vibe back to the 80’s with some delightful guitar and bass and some retro key playing. I can see where the Fleetwood Mac comparisons come from on this track with the vocal performances, it’s not a million miles away. And a fade-out? Brilliant. You don’t hear that enough any more. A guitar-centric opening brings ‘Honey & I’ to the party with a more laid-back effort with warm, clean guitar lines; the track works well at this stage in the album and the tempo switches are really well placed.
‘Don’t Save Me’ maintains the funk-heavy feel of the album with the by-now standard brilliant vocal harmonies. It was a grower if I’m being honest. On first listen I wasn’t too sure but on further listening I started to really get into the track. By the fifth listen I was hooked. Now half-way through the album, title track ‘Days Are Gone’ is quite simply brilliant. The HAIM sound all over it and really key-heavy verses work a treat – layered vocals, bright drumming and a real 90’s-sounding “days are gone” chorus make this a stand out track for me.
An attitude change for the band on ‘My Song 5’ (perhaps taken from a demo on GarageBand – the software labels tracks ‘My Song…’) The track has a much darker, moodier feel to it with a very R&B vibe. Far less pop than the rest of the album, but I enjoyed it all the more for it showing off the band aren’t just a one-trick pony and can change it up when they so desire. As well as a mood change ‘Go Slow’ brings in a tempo change too. Doing what it says on the tin it’s a big tempo reduction, but certainly not a track you’d wish would hurry up and finish any time soon. It’s a nice change-up at this stage of the album and has a warm, atmospheric musicality to it through the bands now-frequent clever use of keys.
The moody intro to ‘Let Me Go’ certainly caught my attention and, when they kick in, the drums for the first time on the album have a more raw sound and feel, verging on tribal at parts and it creates a different dynamic to the band’s sound. Some nice guitar work and distorted vocal splashes toward the end add to the uniqueness of this track.
‘Running If You Call My Name’ features that signature HAIM sound I talked about earlier. It’s a warm, relaxed tracked with pristine vocals, some subtle keys and could have easily been released 30 years ago, and that’s part of the excellence of this track – they capture that retro feel but stay completely modern at the same time; there’s something for everyone here. A slightly different approach on ‘Send Me Down’ with heavily distorted keys and rapid drumming. The drumming pattern merges into the guitar picking brilliantly, rather than bass following drums as pro-forma this approach is slightly different but works really well and creates a cool backing for the vocals to nest on.
Technically the last track on the album (there’s a remix and demo on some versions of the album) ‘Edge’ leaves us the same way we started – 90’s R&B meets folk-funk. Smooth, stylish and day dreaming about sunnier weather. It’s a great choice to end on and will have you toe-tapping and humming along in no time.