Haim’s Something to Tell You: Behold, the Weirdlings

Haim Something to Tell You album cover

That brilliant trio of California sisters, Haim, have a new album out called Something to Tell You. It’s great, I love it, but it’s also haunted. It’s haunted by strange digitized voices of varying pitches. I call them the Weirdlings. They made their first appearance on their 2013 debut, Days are Gone, with that deep, freaky, “Honey, I’m not your honey pie,” on “My Song 5.” That was it, though, just a tiny cameo. But now they fully infest Something to Tell You.  Here are my track-by-track thoughts on the album, along with the evolution of those Weirdlings throughout the album.

  1. Want You Back: The first few times I heard this song I thought I’d never memorize the “I’ll take the fall…” line. I thought, “I’m the furthest thing from a fast-talker, it’ll never happen.” But I channeled my inner 20-something girl and got it down fairly quickly. I like to lip-synch it while walking down the streets of Toronto. So fun. But I think a high-pitched version of the Weirdlings make their first appearance right at the end of the song, almost sounding like it’s saying something backwards. It’s a tough call, but this might be my favourite song on the album.
  2. Nothing’s Wrong: On Days are Gone, I felt like “Honey & I” felt like a Christine McVie-led Fleetwood Mac song. I feel the same about this one. Alana and Este’s background vocals even at times remind me of Stevie Nicks back there. But this is where the Weirdlings really start to peek out from under their creepy cover of weirdness. All of a sudden the song as we know it stops, at 1:48. There’s a trembling keyboard sound and we hear Danielle’s reverby voice speaking the words, “It’s obvious. Be honest.” Then a clearly technologically manipulated voice belts out like an American Idol auditioner, “Could you tell me nothing’s wrong?” It’s not full-on Weirdling, but it’s getting close. It’s definitely a strange and unexpected break in the song, like it’s been hijacked. I didn’t like it at first but it’s grown on me.
  3. Little of Your Love: I love everything about this song. I love the bent notes leading into the solo, like fireworks soaring into the sky before exploding with colour. I just wish, as a guitar nerd, that the solo got a little more love in the mix. Crank it up! A guitar solo needs to be front and centre. Interestingly, the Weirdling’s is the first voice we hear on this one, saying something garbled. I’d love to know what. It keeps quiet until 2:30, when it sings another phrase I can’t quite figure out, a couple of times.
  4. Ready for You: Much like in “Nothing’s Wrong,” I love how the Weirdlings come in around 2:18 singing, “For you,” and seem to scare the song away. All goes quiet for a moment before it comes back at first more quietly and timidly before gaining its footing again and launching back in full force. Other than that, it’s a sugary sweet pop song. That’s fun, bold music production right there.
  5. Something to Tell You: On this one it’s that pre-chorus that really gets me, where Danielle sings, “I never stopped, etc.,” emphasizing all the off beats. It puts you beautifully and slyly off balance.
  6. You Never Knew: I love how everything just floats along over Este’s groovy, melodic bass line in the verses. The harmony on “Ooooh, don’t keep me waiting,” is so full of sunshine I can’t help but smile every time. And 39 seconds in, the Weirdlings have something almost intelligible to say, out of nowhere, in between phrases of the verse. It returns in the outro, singing, “I guess you never knew,” in a few different timbres, from high-pitched to low. The Weirdlings are clearly getting more comfortable on this one.
  7. Kept Me Crying: The guitar solo on this one evokes The Beatles’ “Revolution,” with its fuzzy-toned double stops. Plus, I love the funk-inspired emphasis on “the one” – the first beat of each bar, thanks to Danielle’s phrasing. Oddly, no Weirdlings.
  8. Found it in Silence: This is Haim’s Coldplay song. Totally. That string section? Totally Coldplay. The rest is all Haim all the time. The closing harmonies are gorgeous. And I  think the Weirdlings decided to take another song off, still exhausted from infiltrating “You Never Knew.”
  9. Walking Away: Danielle’s signature vocal technique is to use her impeccable sense of rhythm to create truly unique phrasing, and I don’t think it’s ever on display as intensely and constantly as on this song. It just straddles the line between singing and rapping.
  10. Right Now: After taking three songs off, the Weirdlings are never creepier than on the “right now, right now” refrain on this track. Its low timbre brings to mind Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. “It puts the lotion in the basket… right now!” And to know me is to know the feedback and loud, sustained, low guitar notes starting around 1:20 thrill me.
  11. Night So Long: This is a song, like I’ve often said of Dear Rouge’s “October Second,” that almost feels too intimate. But in a beautiful way that makes me grateful that the musicians shared it with us. But also in a way that I feel like it’s inappropriate to be listening to it without my eyes closed. I once closed my eyes on a crowded subway platform while listening to it. Songs like this, R.E.M.’s “Sweetness Follows,” Juliana Hatfield’s “Simplicity is Beautiful,” and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Little Wing” are really the anti-My Shuffled Life songs. I don’t want to have any memories or images attached to them. I just want the experience of the song. And Danielle’s voice is a revelation here. It seems stronger than ever overall throughout the album, but here it’s so intensely powerful and emotive. It’s beautifully heartbreaking.

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