I worry about Haim. Given that I’ve previously confessed worrying about Iggy Azalea, it’s fair to think I expend too much concern on successful pop stars. But with Haim, it’s worry tinged with guilt; they do know what we’re like, don’t they? Somebody has told them?
Because they’re an American act who found their first success here in Britain, who found fans and critics promoting their stuff and rapturous reception at festivals, and used that fan base and acclaim to build success at home. Britain’s always been a valuable bellwether for pop and it’s useful to be able to say hey, this band’s huge over there and they know their music. It happened to The Strokes, to Scissor Sisters, to any number of bands.
And then comes the second album. And then these bands, who’ve reciprocated in their relationship with the UK and given us special attention, discover that we’ve moved on. The country that adored them is suddenly all oh yeah, The Strokes, I was so into them back when. In the US, apparently, once a band’s big they’re big for years. On the other side of the Atlantic we get bored and move on. The Strokes’ legion of clones found a new scene. Scissor Sisters struggled for airplay. And Haim, darlings of Radio One this autumn, will probably find one Haim album was enough for us.
Which would be a shame because they’re good, Haim. All that frothing blog excitement about sounding like 70s Fleetwood Mac aside, they write catchy, guitar-led, simple pop songs with those great stabbing, staccato vocals. On first hearing the album I was worried it was worn out already, The Wire on every radio station all the time and Forever set to follow up. But everyone’s throttled back and given the songs a chance to exist on their own, to breathe, and while it doesn’t have the intensity that marks a classic album it will be played again and again and again. Forever was included on this compilation – it shot straight on, undeniable – before Days Are Gone came out, replacing Don’t Save Me because of its lighter, summery feel. California sunlight, the golden hour, effortless girls with caramel hair, all that. It’s that combination of mood and melody, of transporting you to a state of mind.
I won’t get bored of it. When I play this compilation in five, in ten years’ time then it’ll still have that power. But there’s a compilation from a few years ago with two songs by The XX on – this compilation has two Haim songs on, the second one’s later – and it dates that compilation pretty precisely. I imagine this one will do the same; if it’s Haim, it must be 2013. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing but it is, undoubtedly, a pop thing.
Compilation: Coyote Summer