RedEye

Haim, 'Days are Gone' review

2 stars (out of 4)

On their debut album, “Days are Gone” (Columbia/Polydor), Los Angeles-based siblings Danielle, Este and Alana Haim make it impossible to ignore their obvious allegiance to ‘80s pop and its production values. Calling what they do “retro” doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s like the last two decades never happened.

Danielle and Este were previously in a teen-pop group, Valli Girls, and they’ve adopted a slightly tougher sound with hints of Vixen-style mainstream metal and hip-hop in a mix of purring synthesizers, reverberating programmed beats and tightly scripted melodies. With the bulk of the production by Ariel Rechtshaid, whose myriad credits range from Vampire Weekend to Usher, “Days are Gone” revels in its artificial gleam. There’s not a hint of dirt, grime or even lint to be found anywhere, and the parade of verse-chorus melodies brims with little hooks and ear worms.

“Falling” evokes Peter Gabriel with its layered, reverberating percussion, “Forever” nicks Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back,” “The Wire” channels the Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight.” The trio isn’t much for extravagant singing. Instead, they use their voices like percussion instruments, and create intricate patterns with their harmonies. The emphasis on rhythm and rhythmic accents is one of the albums distinguishing features. But these aren’t grooves meant for dancing. Instead, their mechanical precision reinforces the vocal hooks, with synthesizers filling in the cracks.

The lyrics flirt with turmoil – there are lots of songs about holding on or jumping into the fire, and so forth – but don’t really say much of anything. Nothing more appears to be at stake than sounding innocuously catchy. Only “My Song 5” evinces a personality -- a collage of elephant noises, spastic beats and operatic bombast. It’s the album’s one experiment, an eccentric exception amid the rehashed artifice.

greg@gregkot.com

 

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has sued Chicago's former red light camera operator, Redflex Traffic Systems, for more than $300 million on grounds the entire program was built on a $2 million bribery scheme at City Hall that has already led to federal corruption convictions.

  • Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    The four musicians in Marrow know quite a bit about bringing diverse influences to the table. After all, three of them, singer-guitarist Liam Kazar, singer-keyboardist Macie Stewart and bassist Lane Beckstrom were in Kids These Days, a now-defunct septet that combined jazz, funk, rap and rock in...

  • The Kids These Days family tree

    The Kids These Days family tree

    From its 2009 beginnings to its 2013 demise, Chicago's Kids These Days seemed like one of the most promising acts the city had seen in years. While the band split up at the height of its hype, its members have since gone on to do bigger and better things—seriously impressive considering the hip-hop/rock/jazz...

  • Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    After the dissolution of Kids These Days, the much-buzzed about Chicago fusion-jazz-rock-rap septet that split in spring 2013 just a few months after releasing its only album, “Traphouse Rock,” some of its members spent what seems like all of 20 minutes bandless. "We were driving back from the...

  • Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Welcome to RedEye's "Song of the Day," an ongoing feature where music reporter Josh Terry or another RedEye staff member highlights something they're listening to. Some days the track will be new, and some days it will be old. No matter what, each offering is something you should check out. Check...

  • GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    Technical difficulties at GrubHub and Seamless over the weekend drove hordes of hangry would-be customers to air their grievances on social media. The food ordering and delivery sites, which merged in 2013 and use GrubHub’s back-end technology, errantly accepted payments on Saturday evening without...

Comments
Loading
74°