Haim’s latest represents their most cohesive artistic vision yet and a grand promise of continued evolution.
“Goodbye for now” were the words that the Haim sisters posted to their individual Instagram accounts in early 2019, though the subtext was more promise than farewell. What exactly was in the offing? A new album? A huge tour announcement? Eventually, “Summer Girl” was released, a single that was followed by two others (“Now I’m In It” and “Hallelujah”), and then…radio silence. There remained the suggestion of something imminent, but the official message was quite the opposite. It wasn’t until early 2020 that the group finally announced their new record, Women in Music Part III, and while the wait built immense hype, the sisters thankfully are up to the task on the new record. Haim’s latest is at once their most diverse, reflecting a wide variety of styles (often on the same track) and their most intimate, speaking to various personal traumas in their vulnerable lyrics. The effect is one of connection, a through-line found in the tight pop hooks on tracks like “I Know Alone,” “Up From a Dream,” and “All That Ever Mattered,” in jangly Joni Mitchell-esque one-takes (“Man From the Magazine”), and in a few damn good, old-fashioned rock songs (“Don’t Wanna,” “The Steps”).
At times this hodgepodge doesn’t feel like it should work, but the band’s sonic charm and inspired production, from former Vampire Weekend member and frequent collaborator Rostam Batmanglij, consistently elevates. After deleting their individual social media pages, the Haim sisters joined forces on the band’s page, and it seems this was prophetic, in a way, of the sonic cohesion that is borne out across their new album. Batmanglij’s presence is felt on nearly every track, both his writing and producing a stabilizing force and undeniable boon for the album — Women in Music has the distinct feel of Haim at their most fully realized, evincing a track-to-track consistency never before achieved in their discography. In fact, the three singles from 2019 are present only as bonus tracks, and it’s a testament to the album’s coherent vision and texture that they manage to feel as much a part of it as any other cut. In this way, these final ten minutes prove fascinating: they are both past and present, transformed from their initial function as anticipation-builders into a victory lap of sorts. It’s a decision that reinforces the bold promise of Women in Music Part III: that though it may be a while before Haim delivers another record, it simply isn’t their style to look back.
Published as part of Pop Rocks | Q2 2020 – Part 1.