As the cold fall air sweeps in and colored leaves begin to fall, musical sensibilities tend to shift with the temperature. A little more mellow and darker, the sun drenched upbeat rock of summer goes back into the closet in favor of more layered sounds. Bands like Ohio’s own Hooked Like Helen find themselves in heavy rotation during this time. Their brand of dark synth-pop might just be a favorite soundtrack for the season. Started originally by newlyweds Nikki and Jonathan Stipp, HLH turned into a full band once they found a solid experimental sound after recording in their home. Currently they are prepping their second EP, which is more polished, and a major step forward for the act.
Hooked Like Helen’s crushing single “Get Well” finds vocalist Nikki Stipp wrestling between a broken moral compass and a strong desire to find health in the midst of relational difficulty. It serves as HLH’s own brand of melancholy optimism. There is something brewing just beneath the surface that is intriguing and a bit mysterious about their songwriting. This is the allure of the group.
“Something Plain” takes the same songwriting path with another struggle between the blurred lines of innocence and guilt. The tune plays out as a smooth jazz version of a pop-western storyboard complete with an echoing guitar that leaves behind a trademark eerie effect. Stipp reigns in the many layers with vocals that could easily be found on many local top 40 stations.
Speaking of Top 40, “Liar” is pure heartbreak pop. It is a mix between a No Doubt and Katy Perry cut. It both transcends and soars past the simple dark wave genre. Haunting piano and weighty vocals make this a gem of a song indeed.
The “Get Well” EP is set for release on November 5th and was produced by Grammy winning and platinum-selling Isha Erskine who happens to be a friend of the band. The cover art is a nod to Twilight Zone and should be enough of a reason to get you to download it immediately. It is a strong release by the up and coming dream pop group and is the perfect pairing for the fall season.
For fans of: Tove Lo, Tragic Kingdom era No Doubt, melancholy, Echosmith, and the great music of the Midwest