It's been nearly four years since Haim released Days Are Gone, the debut album that put Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim — three freakishly multi-talented siblings from the Valley — on the map. The project earned the trio critical and commercial acclaim and swept the sisters up in a seemingly endless tour. Though that kind of back-to-back-to-back performance schedule is what, Haim reveal to MTV News, they love the most, it made for a bit of a slow (but ultimately fruitful) process getting their brains back into songwriting shape for their second album, Something to Tell You.
"I think it's definitely a muscle that you have to work out," Danielle explained. "At first, we didn't try to put too much pressure on ourselves to write a full song a day. It was like, 'Let's write one part. Let's write a verse, or let's write a guitar lick, or let's write a bass part.' Just every single day to flex that muscle. But after, like, a month, we got the hang of it."
Most of that initial writing for Something to Tell You happened in their parents' living room, and much like the beginning of their own collective musical journey, most of the songs on the album started with drums. (As die-hard Haim fans know, Este, Danielle, and Alana grew up playing with their parents in a family cover band called Rockinhaim after their father Mordechai encouraged each sister to learn how to play the drums.)
One of the first songs Haim wrote for the album was "Want You Back," the upbeat, anthemic lead single off Something to Tell You, but as the sisters perform for MTV News, the original version was more of a slow jam than the sparkling bop we know it as today.
"Towards the end, once we had the bulk of the record done, Alana was like, 'What was that song "Want You Back" that we started at the very beginning? That song was good, but it wasn't clicking,'" Danielle intimated. "So we kind of did the classic songwriting trick of, like, 'Is the tempo right?' and 'Is the key right?' We were like, 'The key seems right, but the tempo seems slow. I programmed just a kick and a clap beat for the chorus on a LinnDrum—"
"—and then all of a sudden, the chorus just got real hard to sing!" Alana chimed in, laughing.
The album is full of exactly what you want and expect from a Haim record — an effortless melding of genres, earnest lyrical content, and no shortage of tight, stacked harmonies. "Night So Long," the album's final song, offers a rare melancholy moment for the trio and exists almost completely on reverb and harmonies. "It kind of was the fastest song we recorded on the record," Danielle said of the track, both because it's so minimal and because the sisters don't typically pre-write their harmonies.
"It's truly just like one of us will go into the booth, and it's just like, 'Go!'" Danielle elaborated, "I think that's why we come up with sometimes not the most obvious harmonies." (Alana is quick to point out here that Este also studied Bulgarian women's choirs as part of her Ethnomusicology major at UCLA, which led into a beautifully nerdy conversation about close seconds versus pop-punk thirds.)
Part of what keeps the Haim sound so consistent is that despite a definite willingness to collaborate with other artists like A$AP Ferg or Kid Cudi or Calvin Harris, Haim seldom extend the practice of writing and producing material for their own albums outside of a small core group. For Something to Tell You, that meant besides the trio and their trusted team, the rare outside invites were extended to George Lewis Jr. (Twin Shadow) and Dev Hynes (Blood Orange).
With a new album comes, of course, a new tour, putting the band back on the road (which, btw, they love). In step with the move, the week after the album release, Haim will drop a documentary set during a recent concert the band played in London. Even though they're SoCal born and bred, it was London that really embraced the band and played them on the radio and gave them their first real shot. It's another kind of return to their roots but also acts like a kick-start to the beginning of this Something to Tell You era, which promises to be packed with powerful females — like Haim's former opening act Bibi Bourelly, who is so beloved by the band that they broke out into a That Thing You Do! reference — sick drum solos, and yes, even more bass face.