10. Haim, Something to Tell You (Sony)
My fondness for Haim coincided with my own unprecedented interest in classic album oriented rock from the ‘70s and early-‘80s. For some crazy reason, stuff like Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, and Toto have clicked in my head in ways that I never expected. So I suppose I’ve become the dad in Say Anything, blasting “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” in the car, completely without shame. Go figure. Anyway, what Haim has done so well since their early singles is bring that middle-of the road formula back into fashion a little bit. After all, with so many inoffensive-to-the-point-of-forgettable white male rock bands out there, the idea of three women with serious musical chops, a full appreciation of both rock history and modern pop music, and plenty of songwriting smarts sounds awfully appealing, if only to wake mainstream rock music out of its stupor. Four long years after the revelatory debut Days Are Gone, Alana, Danielle, and Esme returned with the high-gloss Something to Tell You and it builds on the trio’s “cool middle of the road” (yeah, oxymoron) aesthetic beautifully, and more consistently. I was never a fan of Ariel Rechtshaid’s music, but he proves to be a superb producer here, creating a full, warm sound that marries both lush arrangements and sparse, percussion-driven songs. “Want You Back” and “Little of Your Love” are splendid singles, but the deeper you go, the more rewards you find, such as the driving “Nothing’s Wrong”, the impassioned and minimal “Right Now”, the aching ballad “Night So Long”, the airy R&B of and “Ready For You”, and the shimmering, Rumours–meets-“Under My Thumb” of “You Never Knew”. No real risks are taken, but why should there be risks when Haim are so dialed in to that aesthetic they created? They’re a band that can cover Peter Green, Beyoncé, Shania Twain, and Prince at the drop of a hat, yet have a way of making those songs their own. It’s a rarity to see a band this young sound this fully realized.