With their 2013 debut Days Are Gone, sister trio Haim discovered a peerless juncture; one where the breathlessness of R&B and shimmering ’70s soft rock coalesced into pop with seemingly endless depth. Both of those eras were ripe for the picking too- there’s no sign of those tropes losing the sparkle of their timelessness. So naturally, a complete overhaul of their sound never looked to be on the cards for Haim on their second album Something To Tell You.
In terms of development, Haim sound like they’ve noticed their new surroundings. They’ve supported Taylor Swift and Rihanna on tour, as well as featuring on tracks by Calvin Harris and Major Lazer and the tracks here show that they are a perfect fit for the mainstream despite their wide palette for other genres. And rather than continuing to explore the depths of their trellised sound, Haim seem more interested in designing killer hooks. ‘Little Of Your Love’, despite its bluesier edges, is catchy enough to earn a spot on radio rotation and title track ‘Something To Tell You’ takes notes from tour mate and close friend Taylor Swift.
As for the R&B and soft rock influences, they aren’t completely stifled by ideas of pop embrace. ‘Ready For You’ clicks and snaps its way sweetly through staples of ’80s mid-tempo pop and the warped vocals and ethereal hover of ‘Walking Away’ recalls the tight harmonies of TLC and Destiny’s Child. As for the rockier influences, they are harder to find amidst the stacks of instrumental layering and vocal harmonies. ‘Kept Me Crying’ offers a rare glimpse at Haim circa-2013, as a gawky drumbeat eventually gives way to a searing guitar solo at the track’s close. It’s the closest thing we get to another ‘My Song 5’ or ‘The Wire’ this time round and perhaps that is a mild oversight on Haim’s part.
As for more quirkier moments akin to the glorious tribal beat of ‘Let Me Go’, we’re treated to the skeletal tumult of ‘Right Now’. It’s pop without the mascara and foundation; the drumbeat has an endearing stammer to it, Este’s backing vocal creaks with emotion and Danielle’s lead vocal’s slight mistiming gives the song a sense of realness. The penultimate track ‘Right Now’, alongside closer ‘Night So Long’, are noticeably the sparsest tracks on the album and that speaks volumes of my feelings on the record as it fades out. Something To Tell You succeeds in its ability to draw you back to try and absorb something you didn’t hear the first time round. Overall, it’s a record that works extremely hard to sound effortless. But both the problem and great thing about that approach is that Haim’s second album does little to satisfy the anticipation of a four-year wait. It almost makes you wonder whether an accompanying third album is due to drop the following week a la Frank Ocean or Kendrick Lamar.