Haim - Days Are Gone (3 stars)

Long-awaited debut of well-crafted R&B-tinged West-coast pop stands up to comparisons with influences

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Haim - Days Are Gone

(Polydor)

It feels like Haim have been around a while: following a build-up of hype late last year, they topped the BBC’s Sound Of 2013 poll. But that notoriously non-prescient accolade (The Bravery, anyone?) marked a new chapter in an already long musical history, as San Fernando Valley sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim had been performing both separately and together for the best part of ten years.

That experience shows on the long-awaited album, as do the primping powers of the best producers the aforementioned hype can buy. These are the kind of pop songs that sound like you’ve heard them a hundred times on first listen, and whose melodies get stuck firmly in your brain for days.

And, by the way, forget anything you’ve read about Haim being a ‘rock’ band: the only way to explain this tag is the fact that they play their own guitars. This is R&B-tinged West-coast pop with its heart firmly in so many 90s rom-coms, the perfect accompaniment to the recent resurgence of that decade’s dubious fashions. ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’, in particular, is a bona fide 90s nostalgia trip, complete with chiming synths and dodgy fadeout. It’s a shame this album missed its planned earlier release, as it’s definitely the soundtrack to someone’s summer.

It’s best not to scratch too far below the surface, though, because what Haim have in style and melodiousness, they lack in lyrical prowess as clichéd and platitudinous nonsense crop up more than once (‘if it gets rough it’s time to get rough’: really, girls?).

At an average of four minutes each, some of the 11 songs on Days Are Gone manage to feel overlong, repeating those catchy choruses just a few too many times for credibility. That aside, Haim are playing to their strengths here: namely verve, hooks, and middle sister Danielle’s voice (yes, it does stand up to those comparisons with Stevie Nicks) and so far, it’s a strategy that seems to be working for them.

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