Evolving before our ears like an excerpt from a powerful operatic concept album, “Liar,” Hooked Like Helen’s contribution to the High Strung Free Dance soundtrack, grows out of a simple piano melody over the course of nearly four minutes, and while it’s not nearly as long a track as its harmonious ridges and pendulous rhythm would make it feel, it packs a heck of a lot into its moderate playing time nevertheless. Hooked Like Helen merge progressive rock aesthetics with a playful indie pop balladry in “Liar,” and despite the song’s incredibly glossy tones (which, to be fair, are befitting of anything on a film soundtrack), it doesn’t come across to me as being a commissioned composition in spirit. There’s a lot of intimacy to the delivery of the lead vocal, and even at its most predictably climactic, the track never devolves into a recycled pop song that we’ve heard a thousand times before performed in just as many variations. Simply put, this pair has no place for such pointless dribble in their work.

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The music video for “Liar” includes clips from the movie, and though I haven’t seen High Strung Free Dance yet, I can see why filmmakers used it in their picture for sure. Hooked Like Helen are colorful in their lyricism here, and though they aren’t really breaking any new ground in comparison to what they’ve already recorded up until now (listen to their debut album, 2017’s splendid Settle for Earth, for some of their best stuff), they’re reaffirming their artistic identity beyond debate in this song.

They’re using a compositional framework in “Liar” that is essentially straight out of a playbook written circa 1995, and yet the melodies are stylized with an almost cosmopolitan alternative pop influence that is undeniably as current a sound as you can get. It’s a bit confusing at the onset, but once we dig a little deeper into the actual construction of Hooked Like Helen’s material, and specifically this single, I think we can start to appreciate their complexities for what they are – finely-detailed facets of a really complicated and wholly expressive pop duo. I can’t confirm whether or not they’ve found their signature sound, but they’ve certainly got something unique that they’re sporting in “Liar” without a doubt.

If you’ve never heard their work before now, I would strongly encourage you to take a peek at Hooked Like Helen’s new music video for “Liar,” as it gives some relevant insight into their present direction, and more importantly, their ability to extend artistry from one medium to another. I’m not yet convinced that they’ve exploited their collective talents for all they’re worth, but they shouldn’t rush the development of their next project at any rate. They’re working with a lot of unfiltered elements in their sound at the moment, and I want to hear what they can do with them when they strip away the plasticity and let the harmonies explain a narrative more than their own lyrics do. Hooked Like Helen is on my radar, and after hearing “Liar,” they might just be on yours as well.

Nicole Killian

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