PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

Photo: Reto Schmid / Courtesy of BT PR

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Women in Music Pt. III


26 June 2020

"Give me a miracle, I just want out from this / I've done my share of helping with your defense," HAIM sing on "Los Angeles", the opener to their third studio album, Women in Music Pt. III. At this point, we're used to the band's tendency to shift between multiple different genres—sometimes in the same song—ranging anywhere from soft rock to pop-rock, to experimental synthpop. But this time around, something's different. The group's easy, breezy summer afternoon melodies are still there, but they've lost a lot of the gimmicks. In their place, we are treated to a brand new dose of vulnerable lyrics and refined production, which makes Women in Music Pt. III immediately feel like something that is intimately and uniquely theirs.

"There was a lot of stuff that, collectively, we weren't dealing with head-on," said Este Haim in the band's recent profile for Vulture. "A lot of the shit that we were going through since 2012. When we came back from tour, it hit us all, collectively, at the same time." For instance, Alana Haim had never properly grieved a close friend that she had lost in a car accident right before the promotional period for their first album Days Are Gone began. Este was told by her doctors that she might need to change careers, as touring was having devastating effects on her body as a result of her Type 1 diabetes. As for Danielle Haim, she had descended into a deep depression; one that was characterized by her sisters and bandmates as robbing her of her energy source and the life behind her eyes. The result of these personal traumas was HAIM writing their way through it, resulting in the first three singles "Summer Girl," "Now I'm In It," and "Hallelujah"—all released last year, before the world flipped upside down.

The group's third LP was initially projected for a winter release, but the singers ultimately decided that their new music, much like that of their previous material, has a quality to it that most of us associate with summer. They settled on an April release, but then COVID-19 happened. "The label sent us something like, 'Hey, can you post about this? Something promoting [the album].' And it felt so fucking wrong," Danielle said. "Like, I don't want to promote anything right now." The latest HAIM album was ultimately postponed until August, but then the sisters decided that there's no time like the present. "The album itself was made with this feeling of like, 'Let's just put shit on tape, so let's just roll with it,'" continued Danielle. So they decided to capture their feelings in a jar of sunlight and release Women in Music Pt. III, named after a dreaded question the singers constantly receive asking what it feels like to be "women in music".

Women in Music Pt. III is just as eclectic in sound as Days Are Gone or Something to Tell You, but this time around the group feels more confident in their delivery as if they are symbolically letting us know that this is their moment. The vulnerable and confessional lyrics aid this growth and transition, reminiscent of Maggie Rogers' Heard It in a Past Life. Still, the real growth on the record is that their "experimental" sounds don't sound very, well, experimental anymore—they sound distinctly and authentically HAIM, which is not something that their previous material fully possessed.

The band's penchant for inserting random noises in their songs, such as a gasp or even a fax machine, was never revolutionary (considering Billie Eilish has since made an entire industry out of it), but it was strange and a bit off-putting at times. Perhaps Women in Music Pt. III's biggest strength, aside from the vulnerability, is that all of the songs don't sound the same—something that cannot be said for Days Are Gone or Something to Tell You. In other words, HAIM are done pretending to be other people and ready to be themselves.

The shift is evidenced most by the group's choice to downgrade all three singles from last year to bonus tracks (including the synth-driven "Now I'm in It", which now sounds so out of place) and emphasize the album's other tracks, which are undoubtedly more interesting. "If I go right and you go left / Hey, I know we'll meet up again," they sing on the bridge to "The Steps", a mellow, confessional love song. "And if you go left and I go right / Hey, maybe that's just life sometimes." On "Gasoline", they're pleading to get out from under—whether it's from a romance or the toxic relationship we sometimes have with ourselves is left up to the imagination. "Gasoline, pretty please / I want to get off / But you're such a tease / Throw the keys back to me / Go on and kick off your boots / In the passenger seat."

Another one of the album's standout strengths is its discussion of mental health and illness, reflected best on "I've Been Down", a somewhat sequel to "Now I'm In It" as both explore Danielle's experiences with depression. "You say there's no stupid questions / Only stupid people / Well I've been feeling pretty foolish / Trying to get myself through this / And I've been watching too much TV / Looking up at the ceiling / It's been making me feel creepy / I'm just trying to shake this feeling." Even in our current era, which likes to pride itself on being more open to discussing mental health issues and eliminating the stigma therein, there's still lots of work to be done. So music that openly discusses depression is still nothing short of revolutionary.

With Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM have learned the power of turning inward and inviting others on the journey to self-discovery. As pop singer Marina Diamandis once said, "Don't trust a perfect person and don't trust a song that's flawless." Our flaws are what make us more experienced, relatable individuals, so by learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, HAIM have created their best work to date.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.