M83 ft. HAIM: ‘Holes in the Sky’ Single Review

French electronic outfit M83 have joined forces with the Haim sisters for “Holes in the Sky,” the first cut for the soundtrack of the film, Insurgent. This is the first time the two artists have collaborated together, and the resulting track plays to the strengths of both groups while showcasing the sound of the Divergent series.

M83’s Anthony Gonzalez is no stranger to scoring films, having previously worked on the 2013 film Oblivion, directed by Joseph Kosinski, and starring Tom Cruise. Gonzalez received mixed reviews for his work on the score, but has since gone on to produce tracks for the first film of the Divergent series, and the John Green novel turned film The Fault in Our Stars

The Haim sisters have showed no signs of slowing down since releasing their Grammy-nominated debut album Days Are Gone. The sisters have teamed up with Calvin Harris for “Pray to God” taken from his fourth album Motion, contributed to the Mockingjay: Part 1 soundtrack, which was curated by their close friend Lorde, and have been announced as the supports for Taylor Swift on selected dates of her 1989 tour, all while working on their sophomore album.

Considering the two groups experience with contributing to film soundtracks, and arranging scores, bringing the two groups together for this collaboration has been a smart move. The collaboration has given listeners an orchestral and atmospheric piece that features powerful harmonies and strings. For fans of the Divergent series the piece remains true to the mood of the dystopian adventure portrayed by the film, eliciting those feelings of urgency and suspense felt by the characters of Insurgent.

The standout of the collaboration is the string arrangements that envelop and surround the listener throughout the track. The strings build and build throughout the piece to give the track that sense of anticipation that is often a feature of a blockbuster adventure movie. The continual layering of strings and more instruments gives the sense that the piece would accompany a big moment in the movie. An accompaniment that seems fitting for such an occasion given the suspense and overall effect the music has on the listener.

The Haim sisters lend their vocals to the track, providing strong harmonies as the music builds. Danielle Haim acts the lead on the piece, her distinct voice carries through the piece and really complements the arrangement and strings. A great thing about this collaboration is that, like the collaboration with Calvin Harris, Danielle, Este and Alanna Haim have been able to show how versatile they are in the music game. They seem to have moved from their own rock/pop sound to the EDM sounds of Calvin Harris, to this orchestral piece quite effortlessly.

Like the strings and orchestral arrangement the harmonies build and build throughout the track. Starting with just Danielle Haim singing out before Este and Alanna join the fold to add to the drama and suspense created by the arrangement. The lyrics of the song border repetition, however, it is clear from the piece these are simply meant to supplement and complement the arrangement and are not to detract from the main event. A feat that is achieved by Gonzalez who has carefully crafted a piece where all elements work together to reflect the dystopian mood of the movie.

Overall the track is an achievement for both collaborators, Gonzalez’s arrangement is atmospheric and ethereal which matches the distinct vocals of the Haim sisters. The stand out is the strings, they consistently move throughout the piece to build a world which reflects the film for which it is contributing to. The experience both M83 and HAIM bring to the track definitely does not go unnoticed with these efforts, fans of both bands and of the film series would be happy with this collaboration, which showcases the strengths and growth of both artists while staying true to the message of the film.