Sound: Between the bubblegum-pop of Miley Cyrus, the grassroots rock of Shelby Lynn, and the folksy romps of Colbie Caillat and Rhett Miller with the Old 97s, is a wide range of musical possibilities and Los Angeles-based The Submarines soak their sophomore release Honeysuckle Weeks in it's broth. Converging ranch-style rock with sunny-pop is The Submarines specialty. Their songs have a genuine fluidity moving from slow simmering kettled puffs to ecstatic toe tapping raptures. Made up of singer-songwriter Blake Hazard and her songwriting husband John Dragonetti on keyboards and programming, The Submarines have integrated a pleasing combination of pop confection, comfy rollicking riffs, and a folk fare that is as substantive as Death Cab For Cutie and as aurally arousing as The Decemberists. The Submarines show ambition in the many ways they harmonize with each other, but otherwise, their songs seem simplistic and demand little from the listener but to enjoy the ride.
The folk rock rattling of Submarine Symphonika is fashioned with orchestral overtones, and the folksy rustling of You, Me And The Bourgeoisie has an appealing sway that penetrates the listener's rhythmic timing on the first take. The serenity emanating form the cottony atmospherics of The Thorny Thicket baths the listener in warmth as the melody wanders listlessly, while the jazzy nuances pooling around the lounging rolls of brushed strokes along 1940 denote an old-time pop esthetic. It is a tune that sounds like it resurfaced from another era, but still sounds good in the present. The folksy pop magnetism of Maybe is palpable, and the sunny-pop rays and eloquent font of The Wake Up Song, featuring Dragonetti on lead vocals, bodes a placid stroking. The country-Americana tint of Swimming Pool and the bluesy textures of Xavia widen The Submarines breadth of melodicism. The duo return to their home base with the soft moonlight glow of their riffs in Fern Beard and the soft-pop atmospherics of Brightest Hour coated in gently fluffed up electronic effects. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics tend to be straight-forward and make insightful observations about today's world and the present condition of it's inhabitants. The song You, Me And The Bourgeoisie is featured in the commercial ads for Apple's iPhone, which is quite ironic considering the verses point out to people that happiness lies inside themselves and not in material things, Plastic Bottles / Imported Water / Cars we drive wherever we want to / Clothes we buy, it's sweatshop labor / Drugs from corporate enablers / We're not living the Good life / Unless we're fighting the Good fight / You and Me just trying to get it right / In the center of the first world / It's laid out before us, who are we to break down? The lyrics advise, Love can free us from all excess / From our deepest debts / 'Cause when our hearts are full we need much less / Yeah, I know we long for something fine / When we pine for higher ceilings / And bourgeois happy feelings / But here we are in the center of the first world / It's laid out before us, who are we to break down? // 8
Overall Impression: The Submarines second full length album Honeysuckle Weeks appeals not only to fans of folk-rock but it spills over into other factions of music, specifically alternative country, melodic rock, and ambient-pop. The sinuous vining of notes, the soft slushing motions of weightless soundwaves, and the slender layering of instrument parts give The Submarines songs a simplistic appearance that penetrates the listener's mind instantly. The album does not put the listener is the position of having to figure out what is going on in the songs. The songs are straight-forward and their meaning is apparent. All that the album requires of the listener is to enjoy the ride, and if anyone feels inspired to feel positive after listening to the album, then the songs have achieved their goal. // 8
- Susan Frances aka sweetpeasuzie (c) 2008