Haim, "Days Are Gone"
Haim, "Days Are Gone" (Courtesy)
You've heard Haim before. You've heard the band's name because of the buzz they've been making since last year. You've heard their music because it's a precisely crafted mix of all things pop from the past few decades. Yet there's something different here -- something great.

Sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim are revelling in the kind of pop-rock that would have charted while they were growing up (they're 27, 24 and 21). Portishead's Geoff Barrow tweeted that they sound like Shania Twain, and that's not too far off the mark. It wouldn't be wrong to call up Stevie Nicks or TLC, either. The vocals are more throaty in comparison with the ethereal female voices that are dominating lately. Then there's sharp and clean production, stacking up ‘80s synths, tight drum lines and electric guitar riffs.

It's not easy to be likeable with music so clinical, but the Haim machine processes pop history in a way that sounds their own. There's an x-factor putting a human touch on Days Are Gone. “My Song 5,” despite the sparse and incredibly tense stomp-and-clap beat, is packed with passion. The deep-toned guitar riffs help that, but it's mostly thanks to vocals that leap from breathy falsettos to deep groans. The closest the album ever gets to feeling loose and even wild is “Let Me Go,” where the guitar does seem to just let go and run away from the drums.

Days Are Gone, as the cliche goes, is more than the sum of its parts. Whatever pop-times-rock-plus-R&B equation Haim are using, there's always that human variable tossed in, somewhere.