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Haim - Women in Music Pt. III (Album Review)

Friday, 03 July 2020 Written by Huw Baines

It’s become customary with each new music video to take a stroll around Los Angeles with the Haim sisters. On some occasions they dance, strut and vamp, at other times they walk with quiet purpose. Contained within each vignette is a sense of getting outside yourself and clearing your head, capturing the essence of the wide-ranging tangents contained within ‘Women in Music Pt. III’.

On their third album it’s readily apparent that Haim’s melodic nous and songwriting savvy are easily transferred from style to style, and each transition—see The Steps’ pyrotechnic distortion unfurling into I Know Alone’s skittering lounge-pop—is neatly facilitated by watertight writing. This record is so fizzingly enjoyable, so blithely daring, that to point at its solid foundations seems almost reductive, but in truth that’s where the whole thing begins and ends.

These formal shifts accompany some of Haim’s most introspective lyrics. These songs are underpinned by loss, illness and bone-deep weariness, but the message isn’t to kick off your worries and dance. Instead, it’s that you can carry the realities of your life with you and still find a way to dance.

‘Women in Music Pt. III’ is not as glossy as its somewhat underrated predecessor ‘Something to Tell You’, but that allows its ebullient moments to land like a polite shock that causes you to burst into laughter.

Alongside the diversions, there are also fabulous nods here to the west coast rock of ‘Days Are Gone’ and its rich ancestry, notably a little Joni Mitchell on Man From the Magazine, and a spot on Tom Petty vocal cadence on I’ve Been Down.

But these days that’s only one element of the canvas. The triumph is how readily the sisters—multi-instrumentalists Danielle, Este and Alana—inhabit 3am’s punchy ‘90s R&B and Gasoline’s low-lit, woozy romanticism alongside the classic sounds that made their name.

There’s a well-worn rock trope that suggests bands truly arrive with their third album. ‘Women in Music Pt. III’ adds another chapter to that dog-eared story. It’s a fascinating, thrilling work that becomes more involving over time, offering relatability and giddy escape in equal measure.

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