The Submarines charm below the surface of their newest album, but get too monotonous as they emerge.
The 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.
Someone made the argument that Dragonetti or Hazard could just be writing about a former relationship, which is a possibility. But let's assume it takes about six months to conceive ten songs, then another two months in the studio, then another few weeks to mix the record. That's almost nine months spent working on songs about your spouse's former fuck buddy. (And we're not even mentioning the tour dates involved.) So now ask yourself... would you write this album with your companion?
The plus side for the Submarines' careers is that they write catchy pop, top-40 hits. If “Shoelaces” or “Birds” were on national radio, they'd climb the Billboard charts within six months. Unfortunately, as a whole, this record gets too monotonous during one sitting. It’s just computer processor after computer processor, with a real instrument thrown in periodically. But hey, I guess if my computer processors were the spokesmen for iPhone3GS, I probably wouldn’t play a real instrument very often either.