On their third album, the sister trio is bolder and better than ever before.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a current indie rock star that has embodied a personal brand as perfectly curated as Haim.
The trio, composed of sisters Danielle, Alana, and Este Haim, broke out in 2013 with Days Are Gone, a soft-rock debut brimming with Los Angeles cool that spread like wildfire. In the years since, Haim's music follows the other essential tenets of being a Haim: leather blazers, great choreography, middle-parted hair, and an obsession with '70s icons from Joni Mitchel to Diana Ross. There's a good reason Vogue once published a how-to on emulating the sisters' collective style.
Women In Music Pt. III
As effortless as being a Haim sister might seem, the band's third album, Women In Music Pt. III, highlights the bumps in the road. There are still blips of the California incandescence; the opening track "Los Angeles" flirts with the idea of moving east, ultimately reading like a debate about the sheer meaning of home. But WIMPIII is decidedly darker than Haim's past records, even in its gleaming pop melodies.
Upon the release of last year's "Summer Girl" (a bonus track on the record), middle sister and primary vocalist Danielle revealed that the feel-good, Lou Reed-like song was inspired by her boyfriend (and co-producer) Ariel Rechtshaid's cancer diagnosis. Much of WIMPIII is sunny on the surface—as is all of Haim's best work—all while carrying a hidden weight, culminating into the band's most evocative work to date.
Haim - Summer Girl www.youtube.com
In the lead-up to WIMPIII's release, each sister revealed a significant personal struggle that has impacted them creatively: Este's hardships of living with Type 1 diabetes, Alana's grief after the death of her best friend, and Danielle's looming depression. Another single-turned bonus track "Hallelujah" candidly tells these stories, with each sister singing a verse. "I Know Alone" zeroes in on Danielle's mental state: "I know alone like nobody else does," she sings, pulling you into the eye of her mental spirals. A few songs later: "A little moonlight coming through the blinds / The love of my life sleeping by my side / But I'm still down."
While those moments of Danielle's pure love permeate WIMPIII, the album's punching closer "FUBT" explores an abusive relationship, something all three members say they've experienced. "I kinda like it when you say the things you shouldn't say / 'Cause those are all the things that I was thinkin' anyway," Danielle sings in the first verse. "It's f*cked up, but it's true / That I love you like I do." Throughout WIMPIII, Haim revel in a deeper understanding of themselves and their own traumas, but not without coming out stronger.
"Man from the Magazine" uses personal anecdotes to illustrate the frustrations of being a woman in rock: "'Do you make the same faces in bed?' / Hey, man, what kind of question is that?" Danielle sings, quoting an actual question regarding Este's trademark "bass face."
Haim - The Steps (Official Video) www.youtube.com
Sonically, WIMPIII takes in a wider array of influences than their prior records, seamlessly shapeshifting between ultra-sleek synth-pop and pared-down folk. "Los Angeles" opens with a jazzy saxophone solo, while a chorus of horns gives "Another Try" a brighter aesthetic. Tracks like "The Steps" and "I've Been Down" recall the laid-back, half-spoken delivery of Sheryl Crow.
Bits of funk and polished R&B are scattered throughout the record, leading up to "All That Ever Mattered," an experimental love song that boasts metallic percussion and distorted vocals akin to those of Haim friend Charli XCX. But all of these elements blend together cohesively, rooted in Haim's iconic harmonies and infectious melodies throughout.
Women In Music Pt. III is a no-skips, no-filler testament to how far Haim have come in their lifetimes as artists. With their third record, they've broken through the ceiling of indie darlings and claimed their role as the new blueprint for pop.