HAIM: Women in Music Pt. III (Columbia) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, August 15th, 2020  

HAIM

Women in Music Pt. III

Columbia

Jun 26, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Of all the artists that delayed, canceled, accelerated, or otherwise rejiggered plans around album releases, the approach on HAIM’s third album, Women in Music Pt. III, may end up faring not so well. With six singles already released (admittedly three of those are appended here as “bonus tracks”) going all the way back to “Summer Girl” in July of last year, the question becomes:  What’s left in the tank and will anyone care?  The sisters HAIM, Este, Danielle, and Alana, were teasing the album back in February if not sooner. And the subsequently announced April release was then pushed back to late June, with three of the singles released over that additional span. Outside of the vibe-y “I Know Alone,” what has been released to date has been decidedly worthy to be added to the group’s catalog and most were trademark catchy as hell.

With a bloated tracklist (16 if you include the earliest singles), the remainder of WIMPIII is at best a mixed bag. There are a couple of standout tracks, including “I’ve Been Down,” which arguably tops what’s been released to date. The song’s stop-start rhythms and one of Danielle’s most strident vocal deliveries make for a moment where all artifice is stripped away and her sisters’ harmonies serve to gently push things along. Even the spoken word aside of “The love of my life, sleeping by my side, but I’m still down” is achingly honest. Also rivaling the singles, the opening “L.A.” has a traipsing dancehall beat and pairs well with the subtle confidence of “Summer Girl.” One of Este’s early band experiences is in focus on “Man From the Magazine,” which is an appropriate tell off, but skirts a lot closer to Joni Mitchell than “Summer Girl” did to Lou Reed.    

In too many of the remaining spots it’s often a matter of too many cooks in the kitchen, which is certainly not in reference to our heroes. The sisters get caught in the cross-fire of uber producers Ariel Rechtshaid and Rostam Batmanglij a little too often. Most frustrating of the impulses to over do it on the studio trickery are the sampled screams of “All That Ever Mattered” that run head on with a series of Prince inspired solos. The following “FUBT” does a better job with the solos over a loose-limbed tempo, but is ultimately forgettable. “Another Try” has Rostam patented light horn effects over a reggae tinged rhythm but suffers from unnecessary voice overs, rap interludes, and some laser noises to boot. While the otherwise winning “Up From a Dream” is marred by an irritating intro and outro (multiple clock alarms has to be a negative trigger for most), the less than inspired “3 AM” is just one to skip. 

More important than assessing Women in Music Pt. III as a collective listen though is the fact that HAIM has added eight bonafide winners to their live repertoire. The trio’s stylized name has shouted out headliner aspirations from day one and their live set has been captivating, salty, and uplifting from the beginning. When we can get back to large scale festivals, songs like “The Steps,” the sprint of “Now I’m In It,” and the beautiful “Hallelujah” will add additional contrasts to their set.  The sisterly solidarity of “Hallelujah” recalls the empowerment of The Dixie Chicks’ “The Long Way Around.” And even if the comparison seems tiresome, “Leaning On You” is cut from the same cloth as Lindsey Buckingham’s “Second Hand News” and will float easy on a cool breeze across a crowded field of enthralled fans. HAIM on record comes across best when not overly fussed up or cluttered over and the many standouts on Women in Music Pt. III prove that point repeatedly. The remainder of it could do with some trimming of the fat and taking it easy on the condiments. (www.haimtheband.com)  

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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