By Elle Woods-Marshall
On June 26th, after a long wait, HAIM released their newest album Women In Music Pt. III; I am happy to say it was definitely worth the wait. This album has a new intimacy and explores important themes including mental health, misogyny and complex relationships.
From the title and cover to the meaning behind the lyrics, Women In Music Pt. III confidently and satirically discusses the music industry, directly responding to the repeated and often thoughtless question “What is it like to be a woman in music?”. HAIM wants to exist and create music that means something rather than be boxed into a category – they are not afraid to speak their truth. The three sisters have welcomed a new blend of genres from folk, indie-pop and garage beats.
The album starts off strongly with ‘Los Angeles’ with beautiful sax sections and vocals that transport us to a California sunshine daze. One of the best parts of the album is HAIM’s tonal versatility. ‘Los Angeles’ fits well with the stunning closing bonus tracks, while in between we go through love, loss, the good and the bad: just like life, this album takes us through a rollercoaster.
The country-pop feel in ‘The Steps’ perfectly frames the lyrics’ confessional frustration about relationships and their lover not understanding them or valuing them for what they do. The lines “And everyday I wake up and make money for myself / And though we share a bed / You know that I don’t need your help” center on empowerment. The telling line “If you go left and maybe I go right / Hey, maybe that’s just life sometimes” exudes the need for independence and freedom to walk away when someone is not taking the time to understand you.
‘I Know Alone’ is another brilliant track and is sonically really fresh and different compared to their previous work. The reference to Joni Mitchell’s Both sides Now extends widely across the album, showing Mitchell’s influence on the way HAIM have developed their sound.
The peak of the album, for me, was in two tracks: ‘FUBT’ and ‘Man From The Magazine’. Both of these tracks have an acoustic, stripped back feel and open up beautiful, nuanced conversations. ‘FUBT’ talks about unhealthy, toxic relationships with the lines “Either way I’m going to lose / So I’m just gonna keep loving you”. The synth-guitar solo towards the end manages to capture all of the emotions from the song. ‘Man From The Magazine’ loops back to the satirical title and theme of the album. This track reveals the constant underestimation of women in the industry and expectation for them to perform and prove themselves. Their clear anger is expressed in calm and soft lyrics, making it even more impactful and even reflects a distinct sadness, especially when repeating the line “You don’t know how it feels”.
Another track, ‘I’ve Been Down’, is pared down and vulnerable, especially with the context of Danielle’s experience with depression and her mental health. HAIM’s comment on relationships is raw and real: they symbolise intimacy and closeness in examples of sleeping next to your lover in “The love of my life sleeping by my side’. However they explain “…but I’m still down’, showing that sometimes even when everything looks dreamy and full of love, your headspace can be in a completely different place.
There is so much to say about this album, from the way in which each of the sister’s musical talents shine through in guitar and sax solos to their honest and meaningful lyrics. Hallelujah’s line “laughing together like our thoughts are harmonised, been that way since ‘95” epitomises their musical connection as a trio. HAIM pour emotions and shared experiences into their music to create albums we can all enjoy and relate to.
Image: ‘HAIM in La’ by Jared Eberhardt via Wikimedia Commons