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Review: "A Little Lie" by Halfloves

by Jack Howard

With “A Little Lie,” Halfloves explores the darker, and even cosmic emotive compromises of love and human relationships. The Iowa City locals return with their first single since 2017’s “Wrong Songs,” and with lies living in every handshake and little sighs in every ‘I love you,’ the track takes a more skeptical look at romantic idealism and day-to-day gestures of affection.

Courtesy of Halfloves .

Courtesy of Halfloves.

For frontman Jeff Roalson, these everyday actions amount to something greater; through a glum lens he fixates on the not-so-lovely aspects of connection and their additive nature. “Time and time again” the perfect notions of love crumble, leaving us scrambling for the silver-linings, something to hold onto through the overwhelming doubts. Roalson likens this to a prison, holding out for this unattainable utopian love. The “little tastes” of such ideals take on a tantalizing quality, making the slight glimpses into such a perfect world inspiring in the ecstasy they offer, yet demoralizing in the dismal emotional cycle they perpetuate. Throughout his observations, Roalson takes on a raspy, Yorke-like effect to his tone, making his desperation all the more palpable.

And the Radiohead influence doesn’t stop at Roalson’s cynical takes; percussive piano chords lead a gloomy march through this bitter territory, calling to mind the English group’s alienated anthem “Karma Police,” as well as the ballads from their “Hail to the Thief” era. At times the melodies are almost copy-cats of Karma, which does the track more harm than good; however, “A Little Lie” finds more success in its arrangement.

The band “Halfloves,” taken by photographer, Hailey Held.  Courtesy of Halfloves .

The band “Halfloves,” taken by photographer, Hailey Held. Courtesy of Halfloves.

Light synthesizer touches and guitar noodlings lie in the murkier areas of the mix, while string arrangements sway along with Roalson’s melodies, providing a pleasantly layered harmonic backdrop, not commonly found in Iowa City’s indie rock scene. Halfloves’ appreciation and understanding of texture ends up being what really makes this track tick, and justifies Roalson’s lyricism, keeping it from becoming too overwrought.

“A Little Lie” further develops Halfloves’ case for being among the more standout groups currently working in Iowa City. Though the track often relies too heavily upon its influences, it showcases the group’s ambition to explore the greater and more artful avenues of indie rock music. Though mastery over this artistry is far from being achieved, their zeal will bring them gradually closer to realizing their ideal.

Listen to their single here: https://soundcloud.com/halfloves/a-little-lie

Halfloves will also be playing Mission Creek Festival on April 3rd at the Mill Restaurant.

You can also listen to “A Little Lie” on our Spotify playlist, “.COM”.