Coming off of the success of their sophomore album, Something to Tell You, which spawned a Top 40 hit in “Little of Your Love” all eyes were focused on the three sisters in HAIM to see what they would come up with next. What they have created is a sonic achievement of great songs that they have affectionately coined Women In Music Pt. III. The promotion schedule of this record was kicked off with a short an intimate tour of delis in the US that was halted due to the pandemic. The sisters also decided, like many other major artists, to delay the release of their album until now. Who would have known that they would release the best record of their career with an expansive collection of tunes that features new musical styles, tones, and sounds to further round out their artistic statement. The album was produced by Danielle Haim, Rostam Batmanglij, and Ariel Rechtshaid, who each put their unique stamp on this record that directly rewards the listener on each repeat spin.
The record opens with the cool sway of “Los Angeles” that features some saxophone as Danielle Haim confesses, “Los Angeles, give me a miracle, I just want out from this.” The track has some great guitar work courtesy of Danielle and Alana Haim, and they play off of each other’s riffs with ease with some delicately sung vocals over the top. It’s one of the better openers to come out of this year’s crop of releases. “The Steps” follows up the opening song with a vibe that feels like a modern take on Fleetwood Mac. It’s a great choice of a single, and it is representative of the quality songwriting found on this album.
”I Know Alone” is a darker-toned song about the struggles of finding yourself in an uncertain world. Danielle provides some more clarity on her headspace as she sings in the second verse, “Been a couple days since I’ve been around / Woke up at the wheel on the edge of town / It all looked the same, every mile / Screaming every word of “Both Sides Now.” The track is an interesting take on the feelings of loneliness and how easy it can be for these feelings to quickly spiral out of control. “Up From a Dream” continues down the path of self-discovery and even features some vocal effects and other sound effects to go along with the feelings of being snapped back into our reality.
”Gasoline” begins to brighten things up again with some great pop hooks and a soaring chorus. It ended up being one of my favorite tracks from an album that has a lot of going for it. Danielle recounts a relationship that appears to be mismatched as she opens with, “You took me back, but you shouldn’t have / Now it’s your fault if I mess around / I took a drag, but I shouldn’t have / Now I’m coughing up, like I never smoked a pack.” Her wanting for more showcases a person who needs to feel a sense of belonging to a purpose that feels right.
”3AM” is more of an interlude track that bleeds from the aftermath of the content of “Gasoline,” which describes a hook-up. The interlude features some rap and R&B elements such as samples and heavy beats for the sisters to harmonize over. This eventually leads the way for Este Haim’s best bass line to date on “Don’t Wanna.” It rocks with a pulsating beat similar to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and makes for a perfect pop-rock moment in the latter stages of the album.
The reggae-island infused rock of “Another Try” sounds like HAIM were attempting to experiment with several different styles as if they were trying on clothes to see what works best for them. It leads to mostly favorable results, as each stylistic change that comes on the album feels like it fits just right. Danielle pleads for another chance in a relationship as she sings cautiously, “One thing’s true, every memory leads back to you / Got your hat in the back, faded up / Camo tee in the crease of the passenger’s seat / And every time I try to leave ’em out / My feelings come back around.”
The country-tinged “Leaning On You” has some of the sisters’ best harmonies on the record and makes for a great acoustic-driven song to break up the electric guitar-based tempos. “I’ve Been Down” feels like a Sheryl Crow-inspired song with its rhythmically sung/spoken verses lead into a simplistic, but a musically pleasing chorus. HAIM cautiously wear their both their modern and classic influences on their sleeves as a reminder of where they’ve come from and where they plan to take their audience.
The sampled beats on “All That Ever Mattered” makes for a great pop music moment on the record that allows for the three Haim sisters to focus on their vocal approach to their songwriting. The album closes with “FUBT” or, “Fucked Up But True,” as Danielle summarizes all the things that led up to her moment of clarity. “It’s fucked up but it’s true / That I love you like I do / But I’m just gonna keep on loving you / It’s tough to get through / Either way, I’m gonna lose / So, I’m just gonna keep on loving you,” shows that she is able to look past her relationship’s faults to try her best to make it work.
The album also features a trilogy of bonus tracks in “Now I’m In It,” “Hallelujah,” and “Summer Girl,” that are far from throwaway songs. These bonus songs only further display that HAIM were on top of their creative game on this album that transcends multiple genres and proves that these sisters will not be a flash in the pan of pop music. So if you find yourself in need of something original with a great variety of stylistic choices, Women In Music Pt. III is a great place to start.