I’m the youngest of four sisters and everyday, I’m thankful for that because I would seriously be so lost without them in my life. I think that’s one reason why I like HAIM. The Haim sisters remind me of my older sisters and that’s especially true in the video for The Steps.
The song, of course, is about a relationship that, if it hasn’t ended yet, is coming to an end. The messiness of Haim’s morning routine perfectly mirrors the lyrics of the song, in which the narrator says that every time she tries to move forward, her lover gets mad at her for “making a mess.” There’s something very liberating about HAIM’s messiness in this video. It’s not just the fact that they’re throwing stuff all over the apartment and stumbling out of bed (which is the way I think most of us wake up but it’s something you rarely see in movies or music videos, where everyone wakes up refreshed and ready for a photo shoot) but it’s also the fact that there’s none of the fake glamour that you might expect to see in a music video like this. It’s a song about freedom and being yourself and if that means making a mess then make a mess. It’s a liberating song and a liberating video. It’s not a video where HAIM tries to live up to some pop princess archetype. This is a video that says, “This is who we are and fuck you if you can’t handle it.”
That said, I have to admit that I’m a compulsive cleaner and my natural instinct is to usually tidy up so my room has never looked as messy as my life. I guess I should be happy about that because otherwise, I don’t think I’d ever be able to find anything. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be messy. It’s okay to be neat. What matters is that you’re being yourself and not allowing anyone to force you to try to be someone else.
This video, like most of HAIM’s recent videos, was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film critic Armond White has argued that Anderson’s work with HAIM is actually superior to most of his recent films and I think White might have a point. (Before anyone starts yelling at me, I don’t care whether or not you like Armond White. He’s a consistently interesting writer and someone has to be willing to be a contrarian.) There’s a definitely naturalness to Anderson’s videos with HAIM, as if anything could happen at any moment.