review: haim "something to tell you"

by Sarah Crawford

"And after all these tears, after all my years of trying, I don't wanna hear that none of it meant anything."

I’m not going to lie, the first time I listened to Something to Tell You, I cried. And the second time, I had a hard time getting all the way through without switching over to something more poppy and mindless. It’s not an Adele-level collection of lovesick odes, but something about this album laced with longing struck a painful chord with the complicated sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you, sometimes I can’t let you go relationship feelings I’ve too often experienced. While the same killer harmonies and beats linger over from Days Are Gone, the Haim sisters took a deeper emotional dive on their sophomore release.

And is that a good thing or a bad thing? For my emotional state at least, I’m not sure. The latter half of this album, especially from the disappointed-but-determined “Found It In Silence” through the seeping sadness of “Night So Long,” makes my stomach churn a bit – the lyrics hit a little too close to home. But there’s something significant about artists capturing their own emotions in a way that so deeply resonates with listeners – painful as reminders of toxic relationships and lost loves may be.

HAIM unmistakably borrowed from the best on this album while still making the sound their own. It’s something they’ve capitalized on since “The Wire” borrowed its beat from “Heartache Tonight” – taking music we’re nostalgic for and breathing new life into it, making it relevant for today. The steel string riff in “You Never Knew” would fit perfectly into Fleetwood’ Rumours. And call me crazy, but I think “Ready For You” is basically a George Michael tribute, with a chorus reminiscent of the choral vocals in “Freedom” or the end of “Father Figure” and a bit of the breakdown borrowed from “Faith.”

Even the concept of pairing heavy electric guitar (which is definitely not dead yet, thanks) and fun synth-y beats with painful subjects like the growing and shrinking of a relationship reminds me, again, of The Eagles. But also of classic songs like “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” – one of my favorite new wave bangers but the happy floating feeling it gives me is slightly incongruous with its dystopian lyrics. “Nothing’s Wrong” and “Kept Me Crying” epitomize this in classic HAIM turn the radio up and bang along to the beat fashion (but please don't listen too closely to the lyrics unless you want to be sad about your failing relationship!!!).

So, won’t always turn to this album to find some warm fuzzy feel-goods. And I am still a bit attached to something about Days Are Gone – be it the slightly less poignant lyrics / more optimistic feel overall, or the fact that I had never before heard something so modern and classic all at the same time. But Something To Tell You is a work of art nonetheless. One that contains a few dancey songs and a few achey songs that I’ll return to over and over. And I can’t deny that these women have some of the best stage presences I’ve ever seen so I don’t recommend skipping out on this tour.

illustration by sarah crawford
inspired by haim's "something to tell you" album art