Surreal and gentle, much like the images that they accompany, the piano parts that we hear in Hooked Like Helen’s “Liar” (featured in both a music video and the feature film High Strung Free Dance) are as expressive as any lyric being sung in the song is, but their presence isn’t overstated in the big picture here at all. In “Liar,” Hooked Like Helen demonstrate an ability to balance strong instrumentation with an equally potent lead vocal, and much like their previous releases, their charming poetry finds its way to us not only through intriguing lyricism but through provocative melodies as well.
This mix is stately and well-rounded in both the single and the video, and I admire the attention to detail being paid by the band. It’s not quite over the top theatrics, but there’s absolutely a cinematic vibe to the vocal from the moment that we first make contact with it up until the very second that it disappears into the silence once more, and in a live setting, I’ve got a feeling that it would be even more captivating than it is here (which is saying a lot, especially when considering the grandeur of the music in this duo’s latest song).
I do think that the singing could have used a bit more of an EQ boost towards the end of the track, but other than this minor flaw, “Liar” is a really well-produced piece of music. When I hear Hooked Like Helen, I want the vocal to be at the forefront of the mix every time, similar to vintage Roxette (who I think they can count as an influence), and though this single could have been arranged just a little better than it ultimately was, it’s a cosmetic issue that doesn’t seriously impact the more positive elements here at all.
Hooked Like Helen have a really great chemistry together in “Liar,” and if any of the energy that they’ve got in the studio were to carry over to their stage performances well, they’d have one of the hotter shows around the underground right now. This is more a sampling of what they can do when the magic is freely moving between the two players than it is a sprawling exhibition, and with time and a bit more discipline behind the soundboard, I’ve got a feeling that they’re going to get their fair share of mainstream attention. They’ve got the right pieces in this moment, now it’s just a matter of putting them together in a sophomore LP.
Whether you’ve seen High Strung Free Dance yet or not, Hooked Like Helen’s “Liar” is a great fall listen with a postmodern indie pop finish that isn’t as common on the American Top 40 as it is among the treasure chest of acts found in the underground nowadays. Here, we find a compelling composition that doesn’t ask a whole lot from its audience in exchange for a ton of tuneful harmonies that mesh well with the visuals seen in the video (as well as the film itself), and sadly, that’s a very rare feature in the hit or miss spectrum of today’s pop music.
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