A wonderfully warm tribute to the pure power of percussion and harmony
Few years back, there was a band called Wildbirds & Peacedrums. They featured a frenzied Swedish frontlady with ace hair called Mariam Wallentin, and her husband Andreas Werliin who played the drums in a muscular and bolshy fashion. That was it, and they made this awesome percussion-plus-vox racket that only occasionally got other instruments involved and was simple, enormous and thrilling. Their 2008 album ‘The Snake’ is a belter, but they never became big. But now, in 2012, two bands have appeared who share very similar percussion-plus-vox ideals.
There’s Friends, the Brooklyn quintet who combine sexual innuendo and funk to create highly suggestive bonk pop. And now Haim, featuring three Californian sisters and their drumming buddy, Dash Hutton. Haim’s ‘Forever EP’ (now available on CD and vinyl) opens with the sisters harmonising “I never wanna see you again/With the beating of my heart witness/I say no no no, I’m done I’m done” on ‘Better Off’, before a snare-rim/bass-drum beat comes in. ‘Forever’ too begins with drums, then bursts into something altogether more expansive. They have this Lindsey Buckingham-era Fleetwood-Mac thing going on, which gives their songs a pleasing sheen.
There’s nothing fuzzy here at all. Third track ‘Go Slow’ starts, again, with drums and focuses on the sisters’ spectacular vocals, which is as silk-smooth as any of R&B’s purest moments. Haim have spoken about a love of TLC, En Vogue, Brandy and Monica, and ‘Go Slow’ sounds as much like having warm caramel poured into your ears as any of that lot. They’re Destiny’s Child with snare rims, cowbell, Ray-Bans and ripped denim shorts. And there’s something kinda cool about that.