Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part Two

2. Haim
Days Are Gone

In many ways, Haim owned the second half of 2013. After building a buzz on this summer's European festival circuit, their debut, Days Are Gone, was a major label-backed dark horse that found traction on both radio and with critics. Their successful blend of pop-friendly hooks with the unlikely combination of classic rock riffs and modern R&B beats made Danielle, Este and Alana Haim a key pillar of indie-pop think pieces, not to mention the subject of genre debate of just where the trio fits into the musical landscape.

The children of musicians, they honed their chops in their parents' family band before Danielle and Este joined teen pop also-rans, Valli girls. It could have ended there, but it's clear that music, rather than a quest for celebrity, was driving the Haim sisters.

Days Are Gone features some of the most effervescent tunes of the year, musically complex yet immediately familiar, with songs of heartache set against a backdrop of playful rhythms and melodies. Even after the umpteenth spin, "The Wire" feels like musical stream of consciousness, despite the complex interplay between the sisters that drives the album.

With a North American headlining tour looming, audiences will finally get a chance to see the band's fierce live show. Are they a pop-minded rock band or a riff-heavy pop act? When they're this good, does it really matter? (Ian Gormely)