Even when the Submarines try to strip their material down, they still sound fussy and slickly polished.
Under the Submarines name, married couple John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard sprinkle twee-ish melodies all over the sort of neatly-polished indie pop that makes it onto the soundtracks of television dramas like Grey’s Anatomy (which it has). If the thick veneer of gloss could be peeled back a tad, the duo’s songs might be more inviting, instead of feeling like elaborate store displays customers aren’t allowed to touch.
For the Shoelaces EP, the Submarines indeed attempt to strip down some selections from their Love Notes/Letter Bombs album (the EP’s title track -- also included in the release -- and “Fire”) in informatively-titled “Folked Up 4-Track Versions”. Anyone imagining stark performances bathed in cassette tape hiss should know that the recordings are as slick as ever, except presented with less instrumentation and sans those winsome synth chirps and blurts that glide about in the background of the original renditions. Unfortunate, as it’s arguably those intricate arrangements that are the Submarines’ real strong suit, something which the included New Order and the Jesus and Mary Chain covers bolster the case for. The clear standout from the whole affair, the EP’s take on New Order’s “Your Silent Face” demonstrates how the Submarines’ penchant for fastidiously coating even bitter melancholy in comforting prettiness can augment a tune, instead of overly gussying it up for presentation’s sake.