Hype is a poisoned chalice, especially when it comes from nowhere. Bands can gradually attain big fanbases, see their venue sizes grow and in the process gain a level of respect from the music buying public – Frank Turner is a good example of this — but when bands are introduced as “the next big thing” before a record has even been made, I think it’s in our nature to be suspicious.
Haim are a pretty great example of how to deal with this level of expectation. 9 months after they were announced as winners of BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll their record Days Are Gone drops, and it’s a real gem.
If anything it’s a shame this record didn’t come out 2 months ago, such a blissful summer record it would have been — spare, restrained guitar lines ping off a water-tight rhythm section, replete with hand-claps, snares and a fair bit of programming. It’s a guitar driven album though, make no mistake, though the playing across the board is as much about tone and restrain as anything — the deliriously enjoyable Honey & I and hook-laden The Wire being prime examples.
With small bands — in terms of numbers, not reputation, I should add — there’s often a temptation to make the studio sound as big as possible, by way of compensation. Not so here. The production on this record is divine — each song has so much room to breathe, each arrangement opened up like accordion bellows. Go Slow perfectly exemplifies this, the guitar swelling in and out of the track with all the grace of an ocean’s ebb and flow.
In truth though folks, I could have written this entire review about the last song on the record, which I’ve had on repeat pretty much all day. Running If You Call My Name is the high-point of an album where the bar is set high early-doors. Again, it comes down to the arrangement, when the drums kick-in in double-time on the first chorus, you can’t help but kick along with them.
A little Fleetwood Mac here, a little Rolling Stones there, what’s certain is that this is not a band who need room to grow — they’ve hit the ground running with a tight, perfectly formed record of brilliantly written pop songs that you’d be well advised to pay attention to.