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Albums of the Year: HAIM and Taylor Swift

HAIM: Women in Music Pt. iii

The album has a playfulness and whip precision intricacy that all makes sense once you know that former Vampire Weekend band member Rostam Batmanglij worked as a producer on it. He brings an intangible wit to the sound of the album, littering it with lighthearted moments of conversation with the listener that play with our expectations.

The album, like the song ‘Los Angeles’ suggests, is firmly rooted in a west coast vibe, capturing a restless summertime of hot streets and stifling romances. It feels like this album captures the sound that Haim had been chasing in their two prior albums. It’s as though this album’s moodier sound paired with melancholic lyrics is what the band had always sought to conjure but had never nailed quite as perfectly as this album has.

The songwriting is different to the songwriting we have heard from them before, dipping into a diary like narrative as we catch up with them in their ‘3am’ “u up?” calls and awkward run ins with condescending music shop owners in ‘Man From The Magazine’. This album marks a new era for Haim as well as a new sound that finally feels like home to them.

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Taylor Swift: Folklore

No album has capitalised on the collective vulnerable emotional instability lockdown conjured quite like Miss Swift’s surprise eighth studio album, Folklore. This album marks a dramatic departure from the sound of her prior albums.

Gone are radio friendly hooks and upbeat chart topper singles, instead this album is about the lyrics and the intimate story Swift delicately crafts throughout the narrative of the album. In a time when we all desperately sought out some escapism from the four walls of our rooms we had been confined in for months, folklore provided and that and then some. You might think the remedy to the lockdown blues would be buoyant bops, instead folklore provided an outlet for the tears and emotional fragility a with stripped back 90s indie vibe paired with wistfully sad lyrics mourning lost love and introspective self reflection.

The personal standout of the album is perhaps the confessional ode to the try – hards and people pleasers ‘This Is Me Trying’ which has transcended into an anthem to summarise semester one as it lives rent free in my mind every time I log into my virtual seminars, keep my mic off and type “thanks!” before promptly exiting. Again, to all my lecturers, this *is* me trying, I swear.

Image: Daniel Patlan via Flickr