"Women in Music pt. III is a dream"Twitter / HAIMtheband

What is it like to be a woman in music? HAIM, a band made up of three ludicrously cool sisters from Los Angeles, became so sick of the female artists’ most hated interview question that they named an album after it, playfully throwing down a gauntlet to the unimaginative press to up their game. And Women in Music Pt.III is very, very good. Their new, seductively understated sound drifts with delicious ease from each catchy chorus to the next and provides all the dreamy cut-off denim short clad escapism that the single ‘Summer Girl’, released last year, promised.

The album is noticeably punctuated by barely any silence, but instead, brief moments of stripped back vocals, which draws the listener away from Spotify’s temptation to hit repeat on individual tracks. Instead of just dipping our toe in, HAIM coax us to slip fully into the swimming pool of their melodic melange of rock, jazz and pop – to bathe in the self-confidence that radiates from the record and made me think this metaphor was viable. They evoke an effortless romanticism that kind of hurts, but in the best way. We’re watching the sunrise from the kitchen counter, when you’re lying between my legs it doesn’t matter, Danielle intones lazily on ‘Gasoline’ and ‘FUBT’ (standing for Fucked Up, But True) is in equal parts painful and joyous yelling-in-the-shower material.

“The triumph of Women in Music Pt.III lies in its balance”

While some elements of the HAIM of old remain – Este’s trademark driving bass on ‘3am’, and rockier tracks like ‘All That Ever Mattered’, where the chorus contains a stylised but cathartic scream, it is to steady the album from dissolving into a summer haze, and all done with the lightest touch. The triumph of Women in Music Pt.III lies in its balance, particularly between West Coast glamour and fresh and unfussy lyrics; ‘The Steps’, the second track on the album, emerges as the most perfectly executed blend of a windows down, Converses-on-the-dashboard, road-trip anthem and a careless realism as they muse, if you go left, and I go right, hey, maybe that’s just life sometimes. Elsewhere, the sisters’ sound is homely and grounded – the tempo of ‘Up From a Dream’ evokes the repetitiveness of the everyday, beautifying lines as simple as walk into the kitchen, pull the dishes from the sink – particularly prevalent to lockdown living.

“The album is not all sleepy California mornings”

But the album is not all sleepy California mornings. The trio’s recent years have seen loss and depression, experiences that inspire a melancholic thread that swims, not immediately detectable, under their sunshiney choruses. But rather than the deliberately tear-jerking or self-indulgent approach that can sometimes compromise an artist’s attempt to tackle heavier themes, HAIM’s feels completely real. ‘I Know Alone’ on the surface is poppy and catchy, but it also voices an honest and relatable expression of unhappiness in a demanding world: I know alone and I don’t wanna talk about it / Friday hits and I feel like wasting everybody’s time / When Sunday comes they expect me to shine. In the music video for ‘Now I’m In it’, Este and Danielle stretcher a drunk and spiralling Alana across LA and put her in a car wash, before the three stride insouciantly into a bar, put back together, although with an implication of surface-level resolution. The track and video speak directly of shared trauma, collective healing and the cyclical nature of depression without a hint of melodrama. As the album ebbs towards its close, the pared back, country-esque ‘Hallelujah’, which addresses the loss of Alana’s best friend in a car crash, is stark and haunting and celebrates the power of caring sisterhood, all while resisting the cliche of the mournful ballad.


Mountain View

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Women in Music Pt.III is a dream; exquisitely well situated between escapism and real life and the perfect soundtrack for dancing defiantly (if alone in the garden) through an uneasy summer. In a genre all too dominated by the laboured emotions of ageing men, the HAIM sisters are fresh, commanding, and a force to be reckoned with in defining Indie in the next decade.