Haim: “Summer Girl”

Early on in the making of Haim’s 2017 album Something to Tell You, the band’s producer (and Danielle Haim’s romantic partner) Ariel Rechtshaid learned that he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Though he’s since recovered, Haim’s new song “Summer Girl” was born at a time when his prognosis was still uncertain. “I was on tour and felt like I was trying to send positive energy his way almost telepathically,” Danielle wrote in a statement about the track. “Whenever I would come home in between shows I wanted to be his sunshine—his summer when he was feeling dark.” Co-produced by Rostam and Rechtshaid himself, the sweetly plaintive “Summer Girl” captures the disquieting feeling of trying to conjure up any ounce of hope in a grim situation.

Taking heavy inspiration from Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” the song features a jazzier palette than Haim’s usual guitar-forward funk-pop. All throughout, an upright bass cycles through a handful of notes while Danielle’s soft coos of “doot-doo” mirror the tension. It’s a phrase that usually surfaces in lighthearted background vocals, or when humming along to a song you don’t know the words to, but Danielle’s vowels are tinged with sadness and hesitation, as if she’s holding back tears. The song’s momentous bridge reveals the fear and uncertainty that came with Rechtshaid’s diagnosis, but still she remains eerily calm, singing with an almost meditative composure: “You walk beside me, not behind me/Feel my unconditional love.” With those words, Danielle positions herself as a rock for her partner and invokes the age-old belief: Love has the power to heal.

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/summer-girl/

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