HAIM’s Something to Tell You is one of those rare albums that make me regret living in the southern half of the hemisphere. The groovy tones, allusions to Fleetwood Mac, funk and 80s pop all make me wish it wasn’t winter (although the sun is shining through my window as I write this). Something to Tell You is an album for summer. It’s for sunny days filled with lethargy, for hanging out with your friends and dreaming about California in the 70s.
Thematically, HAIM are doing what they do best — crafting an album relatable to everyone, no matter what part of a romantic relationship you’re at. Whether you’re pining after someone, in the middle of a relationship or things have gone sour, you will find your new anthem here. The album pushes HAIM’s signature funky sound and down-to-earth lyrics from Days Are Gone (2013) and melds it with more allusions to old school rock and funk. HAIM keep their groovy harmonies (their voices blend so wonderfully in ‘Little of You Love’) but add a little extra. The opening of ‘Something to Tell You’ could be played during the kiss scene from any John Hughes film starring Molly Ringwald. ‘You Never Knew’ is a love song for any Fleetwood Mac fan who has exhausted all the Nicks/Buckingham era albums. The sisters have previously tried to disassociate from these comparisons but it’s hard not to hear the influences, particularly in the opening bars of each song. For the most part, during the first verse of the songs the clear influences fade and the sound flows back into HAIM’s skilful mix of nostalgia and uber-contemporary-cool. Yet the vintage vibes spring back in most songs at the bridge. Love it, or leave it, it’s a structure that repeats itself many times in the album.
Still, it would be a disservice to view everything on this album through those sepia-tinted glasses the girls don on the cover — the album has its dark moments. Whether it’s the breathy vocals in ‘Walking Away’ mixed over a minimalist beat, or the regretful lyrics in ‘Kept Me Going’ and ‘Walking Away,’ or the guitar building aggression in ‘Right Now,’ Something to Tell You has moments of anger and self-empowerment. The lyricism of ‘Right Now’ is a highlight of off the album. Having gone through all the pep, all the summer and all the breakup anthems perfect for strutting along to, HAIM move into a song which finds power through simplicity. Each time Danielle seems to reach a point of outward anger, the music brings us back down to a quiet beat. The song feels like sitting on the edge, with the same lyrics being repeated over and over, like someone coming to terms with what is being said. Finally, this bitterness translates through into ‘Night So Long,’ a closing song which is sweet in its sadness. Danielle’s vocals are the focus here. The smooth harmonies and haunting effects in ‘Night So Long’ point to summer being truly over. As Danielle sings ‘goodbye to love once more’ as we say goodbye to another rollercoaster of romance we’ve just witnessed.
HAIM’s sophomore album doesn’t necessarily break any new ground; but it does, willingly or unwillingly, play into the vintage tones that pop music has been craving recently. In this way, with relatable lyrics, Something to Tell You feels timeless and like an album that we can keep coming back to (until their next one comes out, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves).