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HAIM take us through every stage of a break-up

It has been four years since HAIM came out of from nowhere and stole our hearts.

Today, with the release of their long-anticipated sophomore album, they’re back and more honest and vulnerable than ever. Something to Tell You is a beautifully written journey through heartbreak and longing. To the sound of the 60s and the 70s, these sisters walk us through the many emotional stages of losing a lover, from the immediate regret, to the eventual acceptance and the loneliness that accompanies it.  While in many ways different from their first album, Something to Tell You still captures that throwback sound that makes HAIM so unique, and has left me wanting more.

The album begins with single ‘Want You Back’, and I can honestly that I never would have guessed that this would have been the chosen opening track due to the song’s reflective nature. However, being that I very quickly picked up the theme of heartbreak, I have come to love this choice. This song, for me, feels like stage one of a breakup: the immediate regret.  The song is both upbeat and hopeful, while the lyrics remain reflective and apologetic. “I’ll take the fall and the fault in us, I’ll give you all the love I never gave before I left you.  Just know that I want you back.”  It’s almost romantic in a way; to be willing to take the blame in order to repair the broken relationship. Again, it’s that immediate feeling one has when going through a breakup. You almost don’t want to accept it; you just want it back.

The album moves into Fleetwood Mac-esque ‘Nothing’s Wrong’.  Like track one, we’re still in those beginning processes of a breakup. “How could you tell me nothing’s wrong?  It was good but now it’s gone. I was so foolish, so blind…why did we do this to each other, baby?”  Whereas track one seemed almost hopeful, this track feels vulnerable.  They’re allowing us to see what it was that went wrong. This track is allowing the blame to be shifted over to the partner. The line, “how could you tell me nothing’s wrong?” is later at war with the line, “tell me nothing’s wrong,” which shows the lack of communication shared, and the singer’s unwillingness to accept that there are problems being had. It’s that phase of allowing yourself to admit that the blame isn’t all yours, but still wanting the relationship back.

Track three, ‘Little Of Your Love’ makes things feel a bit romantic again. It feels like your classic love song, complete with promises, hesitation, and fear. Over and over again the lines “give me just a little of your love,” and “don’t let me down / I won’t let you down,” are sung throughout the song.  For me, it’s that reflective look back to the beginning of the relationship.  The first two tracks detail the beginning of heartbreak, and this track details the beginning of falling in love.  No breakup would be complete if you didn’t look back on “that night” that “was from a dream.” 

‘Ready For You’ seems to echo the same sentiments and touch on the same things as the album’s opening track.  Here, we see HAIM weighing up being unready for the relationship, and now wanting a second chance. ‘Something To Tell You’, the album’s title track, marks a shift in the narrative. So far, we’ve seen promises of doing better, and hopes of getting back together, but here we get a new kind of vulnerability and the ultimate breakup song. Like in track two, the blame is shifting. We’re beginning to see the resurgence of that theme of lack of communication. We’re beginning to see pain. “You woke up from another dream, another fight you didn’t mean. Still time after time I came running back… was my love too much for you? I guess you never knew what was good for you.”  Beautiful.  With vulnerable lyrics juxtaposed within a dreamy and romantic instrumental composition, we’re moving into that new phase of a breakup, where we are able to clearly see that not everything is our fault; that our partner is also to blame.

“When you sleep, are you dreaming of me? If you want me, I’m waiting for you.” Track seven, ‘Kept Me Crying’ feels like, at least to me, the album’s emotional low. Though the partner kept her “crying so long her [my] tears are dry,” she’d still take them back. It’s simple and poignant, and encompasses the true heartbreak of loving someone; that no matter what they did, you’d take them back in an instant. “I was a lover, I was a friend, now I’m just somebody you call when it’s late enough to forget.”  It’s that middle ground that takes place post-relationship, where neither party wants to fully let go, but also not fully hang on.

The following three songs deal with the confidence in the decision to walk away. ‘Found It In Silence’ opens with strings, which gives the album an entirely new feel, and introduces a turning point; confidence in decision, and the following songs carry the same sentiment. There is no more longing or wanting for a second chance, only acceptance. The last of this trio, “Right Now” perfectly sums up the themes dealt within this run.  “You left me searching for a reason / why’d you leave me? / left me in the dust.” 

‘Night So Long’ does a great job at detailing that moment you have with yourself once the high of feeling confident wears off. “I say goodbye to love again in loneliness, my only friend.”  This whole song has a sort of hollowness to it, and the sisters sing harmonies that sound like a choir. She has sat through the hope that things would work out, the sadness that they didn’t. She has searched for answers, and found them in herself.  And now it’s just her; while for the best, still an unsettling place to sit in at the end of a long journey. But she’ll be okay.

It was a long wait to get here, but HAIM delivered.  In 11 tracks, the three-piece took us through every emotional stage that comes with mourning the death of a relationship, and they did so with eloquence and beauty.

Words by Sara Santora

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