Songs composed for a soundtrack don’t always translate as well on their own as they do within the context of a complete film, but in the case of Hooked Like Helen’s “Liar,” the new single (and music video) from this Ohio-based pop duo is just as fetching in either scenario. Structured around a grandiose piano harmony and a brilliant lead vocal, the churning “Liar” borrows a bit from early 90’s-style power balladry and contemporary alternative rock, but make no mistake about it – this isn’t a hybrid in the same fashion as many of the indie pop slow songs making noise this year have been. Hooked Like Helen know who they are at this stage in the game, and they’re playing to their own stylistic parameters quite well in this track.
Lyrically speaking, I don’t think that “Liar” is the most elaborate, nor the most descriptive, song that this pair has written, but it flows really well just the same. The instrumental melodies that form a patchwork of texture in the background gel with the fluidity of the vocal exceptionally, and even if the actual construction of the verses isn’t nearly as virtuosic as some of the other material Hooked Like Helen has released thus far in their career together has been, it doesn’t necessarily need to be in this particular instance. To some extent, this is a single defined less by its lyrical narrative and more by its moody harmonies, the best of which convey much more than words ever could all by themselves.
I think that the piano is just a bit too loud in the grander scheme of things in a couple of different key moments here, but I wouldn’t say it’s so immensely powerful that we lose sight of the bittersweet serenade at the center of the mix. “Liar” is admittedly rough around the edges, and while some critics would be quick to dismiss it as being exactly what most listeners would expect it to be – a simple soundtrack piece boasting some generic production techniques – I think that its raw aesthetics add to its emotionality in a really good way. Hooked Like Helen are a multidimensional band, and although this isn’t their most polished look to date, it’s one that I would still like to see them experiment with (and possibly employ again) in the future.
If you like epic alternative pop music, Hooked Like Helen’s “Liar” is definitely worth checking out this season. 2019 has been a really strong year for artists of this strain, but this duo is doing a good job of distinguishing themselves from the pack in their latest release, which can also be found in the new motion picture High Strung Free Dance. It’s not said often enough how critical a good soundtrack can be to making or breaking a movie, but in a track like this one, we get to experience a work steeped in emotion and evocative passion that was directly inspired by yet another work of art. “Liar” is quite stirring in its single, music video and soundtrack forms, and I’d recommend picking it up the next time you’re looking for introspective new jams.