Haim: Women in Music Pt III review – A celebration of resilience

Los Angeles sisters document personal difficulties on their best album yet

Women in Music Pt. III
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Artist: Haim
Genre: Pop
Label: Columbia Records

The title of their third album may be primarily a jeering nod to the journalists who persistently ask them the inane question, “How does it feel to be women in music?”, but Haim have a point to make.

A few years ago, not long after the release of their second record Something to Tell You, the Los Angeles sisters fired their booking agent after discovering they were being paid 10 times less than a male artist on the same festival bill. As they put it on album track Man from the Magazine – a song that’s part-laundry list of the sexist comments they’ve faced, part-scathing riposte – “I don’t want to hear ‘It is what is it’; it was what it was.”

Times have changed, and so have Haim. Since they first broke onto the scene in 2013 with their sun-dappled soft rock that nodded to 1970s titans such as Fleetwood Mac, ’90s R&B and bubblegum pop in one eclectic swoop, Danielle, Este and Alana have been through a lot. Much of it is documented on Women in Music Pt III, most notably Danielle’s struggle with depression, as heard on I Know Alone (“Been a couple days since I’ve been out/ Calling all my friends but they won’t pick up”) and I’ve Been Down.

Este, meanwhile, contributes a song about her exhaustive struggle with type-1 diabetes on Hallelujah, an ode to her sisters’ capacity for pulling her through. It’s safe to say that things get a little heavy on the lyrical front.

Somehow, despite their various emotional challenges, Haim have not made a musically downbeat record. If anything, Women in Music Pt III is a celebration of resilience and has the defiant tone to match it. You can hear it on the aching throb of bass on I Know Alone that gives way to a glitchy, spacey pop beat; the sensual snap-and-groove of Gasoline; the Timbaland-style R&B of 3AM; the 1980s pop of All That Was; and the hazy, lazy pop of lead single Summer Girl.

Haim giddily oscillate between styles and their enthusiasm is infectious. Up from a Dream has shades of T-Rex's Metal Guru, FUBT sounds like an off from The Lost Boys soundtrack, I've Been Down is the funk-pop hit that Sheryl Crow wishes she'd written, and the Joni Mitchell-esque Man from the Magazine and Leaning on You will satisfy fans of the trio's folkier, harmony-led fare.

All in all, it sounds as if Haim are less concerned with perfection and more with authenticity – and by leaving in those rough edges, they’ve made their best album yet.