First and foremost: there is not a “Women In Music Pt. I” or “Pt. II”. There is a lot of significance to the number “three” here, however, given the three sisters that make up HAIM (Este Haim, Danielle Haim, and Alana Haim), this being their third album, and likely other references that I’m not smart enough to get. Regardless of nomenclature, though, this is a powerhouse of a pop album.
Women In Music Pt. III shines for all of the different areas that it touches and excels in. From a funky beat on “Los Angeles” that would be at home in an early 90s hip-hop track, to something closer to a Fleetwood Mac track (“Up From A Dream”), HAIM hits all the literal and figurative notes.
I refuse to call HAIM a “girl group”, because that would insinuate that “boy groups” are on the same level, which the vast majority are not. The sisters have not only matured their sound, but have truly expanded upon it here. I will be doing them the justice that I should’ve done them years ago, and going back to check out their previous two albums. I know they won’t be as good as Women In Music Pt. III, but they will still be a treat.
Before getting into the music on this album, a couple points of clarification need to be made. Firstly, this is not a band. It is an undefined collective led by Montreal-based icon and presumed Bond villain, Murray Lightburn. Secondly, any act that self-indentifies with Serge Gainsbourg is saying 2 things: 1) “We don’t want to be pigeon-holed into a genre”, and b) “We might be French”.
Their eighth studio release is a collection of reflective tunes that can best be described as eclectic orchestral pop. From the Bowie-esque “Is This What You Really Want?”, to the early-Weezer sounding “I Know What You’re Thinking About And It’s Awful”, to the Motown love song “Play Dead”, the instrumentation is always full and rich. This is no surprise, since the list of contributors on the album may as well be the Montreal phone book.
Throughout all of it, Lightburn’s voice shifts between styles effortlessly, doing what is needed to float, cut through, punch up and generally take control of every track. His charisma has a Neil Diamond-at-the-cabaret quality to it that’s undeniable and enchanting. The flow of the record feels more like a well-crafted playlist, easily moving from song to song without seeming repetitive or jarringly different.
FFO: Serge Gainsbourg, Broken Social Scene, British Sea Power