Thursday, December 19, 2013

Haim: Days Are Gone (2013)



You needn't worry about the Haim siblings. While Days Are Gone is an '80s revivalist throwback -- and a very good one -- you can detect major chops underneath all the glitter and the power-pop smoke machine, and Alana, Este and Danielle have more than sufficient freedom to do whatever they want next, derived from anything or nothing.

That said, Days Are Gone's highly expressive, splendidly adolescent snapshot of late '80s / early '90s top 40 eclipses almost every other attempt at aping the sound of a childhood or adolescence of that era because it attempts no self-conscious irony, nor does it try to make Tango in the Night and Phil Collins "hip," it just senses the emotional utility in all that populism. The base appeal of all this is the songs are catchy, though a few of them are also repetitive and annoying ("Let Me Go") and even the already-hallowed "The Wire" is as much an act of cute calculation as giddy excitement.

But there is excitement on Days Are Gone, and resonance, and love. "Falling," "Forever" and "Honey & I" mimic the handy sounds of AM but also the toughness and vulnerability in an obvious touchstones like Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere" or Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield's "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" More than a handy shorthand symbol of another time, Ariel Rechtshaid's production tricks are an emphasis of perfect pop and its unmistakable, unerring utility across years far beyond the age of anyone playing music on this album.

The record peaks with "If I Could Change Your Mind," which puts in stark relief even a good revivalist anthem such as Ice Choir's "I Want You Now and Always" or the Pains of Being Pure at Heart's "Even in Dreams." Instead it's like Cut Copy's "Take Me Over" -- a song of such bracing emotional directness it transcends its on-the-sleeve influences, and really just generates such a basic core urge to dance or cry or sing or whatever that it's like, why even map out the genesis of it? It's just pure, and right here with us, and glorious.

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