Review : The Submarines - Love Notes/Letter Bombs
PopmatterThe Submarines are John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard, a married couple from Boston. Apparently Dragonetti and Hazard met through a friend, toured together making Phoenix-style pop-rock, but then broke up. Only then they realized that their songs as solo artists were all about how much they missed each other, so they got back together, and marriage ensued.
Cute story, but the Submarines resemble the annoying couple at a party that you’re at first in awe of for finding true love, only to then want to choke when they make out for the next four hours. Only to then see them get into a fight after that make-out session, say how much they hate each other… and then discover they’re back together the next morning. As the album title, Love Notes/Letter Bombs, would imply, the tracks are exactly split between five love songs and five songs about a fight, and though that’s kind of cliche, fine. Let’s accept it. After all, the title makes it perfectly clear what to expect of them.
The bitch of it, though, is that the album ends in complete fraud. Hazard sings, “I disappoint you / Try as I may / You’d be better off without me these days”. Unless this is the most self-loathing, miserable couple on the planet, do they really believe that? Judging by the fact that, not only are they married, but they write pop songs cheesy enough to get played on Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl, it’s pretty apparent they’re in love. So why pretend things are going wrong? Are they just trying to do what musicians do and wallow in pity for the sake of an interesting album? Why not just flip the title, call the album Letter Bombs/Love Notes, begin with the sixth song, “Tigers”—a perfectly fine opening track—and end with track five, “Birds”, which is arguably the best song of the ten? Same record with a realistic ending....full text
PastemagazineStream Love Notes/Letter Bombs in its entirety here.
Rock musicians lose their edge once they settle down and get married, goes the old adage. Whether that’s a statistically viable generalization or just a convenient explanation for an artist mellowing with age is still debatable, but the Submarines are doing their best to dispel that myth: The LA-via-Boston husband-wife duo make witty, conflicted nuptial pop about the tribulations and rewards of marriage and commitment, with each album more conflicted and more insightful than the last. In fact, John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard had dated and split before they even formed the band. Recording each other’s break-up songs had a therapeutic effect, and they eventually reconciled and released their debut, Declare a New State!, in 2006.
Love Notes / Letter Bombs continues that chronicle of Dragonetti and Hazard’s relationship, and because of their lyrical candidness and percolating pop production, the subject matter has only grown more compelling. They studiously avoid even the hint of sentimentality and instead embrace devastating observations and lump-in-throat humor, which give them more heft and gravity than likeminded duos such as Mates of State and the defunct Georgie James. For this album, the couple worked with Spoon’s Jim Eno to track live drum parts, which form a strong foundation for these songs. This is the most organic their synth-heavy pop has sounded, with a greater depth and dynamism on “A Satellite, Stars and An Ocean Behind You” and first single “Birds.”...full text
AbsolutepunkIndie-pop duo, The Submarines have had to endure many assortments of obstacles and turbulent occasions even before their official formation. Both Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti were separate aspiring solo musicians playing early evening shows in and around the independent and underground Boston music scene. Their careers took off simultaneously, and the pair subsequently toured Europe together where love and music blossomed and intertwined seamlessly. Without going into the depths of detail, a break-up ensued until both individuals began writing and recording new music in Dragonetti's home studio. They soon realised that all of their written material comprised of the very same topic - their love faltering, fading and then collapsing. There was a recurring theme of sadness and regret at having broken up, and with that in mind, they decided to write together and form the charming and equally enthralling, The Submarines which lead to sparks reigniting and gorgeous music being created.
Love Notes / Letter Bombs is now the third full-length from the pair and it manages to convey a sense of warmness and intimacy while also highlighting the tensions and insecurities that often linger within relationships. They may now be a married couple, but that certainly doesn't prohibit the lyrical topics from being noticeably direct, genuine and unfiltered. There's no artifice, as there normally would be when bands and artists attempt to conjure topics to write about. It's all heartfelt and sincere even in the uncommon moments when it's not all that well written. Likewise, there's an unmissable amount of emotional immediacy throughout the ten song duration of Loves Notes / Letter Bombs - both in lyrics and the absorbing melodies.
First single and album opener, "Shoelaces" employs a carefree eternalness that exudes from the melodies while also boasting captivating chemistry ridden vocal lines from the two members. Musically it still incorporates irresistible power chords, backing acoustic guitars and bouncy piano notes alongside pulsating electronic synths in order to create an accessible yet energetically upbeat anthem. The flirtatious interplay between Hazard's lovely vocals and Dragonetti's deeper and more electronic-tinged tones is a highlight as the latter sings on the opening verse, "I've had better days than this / words trip like untied shoelaces / still, you're worth falling down for once in a while". The candid honesty provides a compelling element because rather than hide the flaws in their relationship, the duo embrace, highlight and showcase them in a three minute hook-laden statement....full text
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