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In Short: The Submarines ‘Love Notes/Letter Bombs’

Quite a few bands are currently struggling to throw off the tag of ‘those guys who had that song in that Apple ad’. LA indie pop group The Submarines however are trying to do likewise to the tag of ‘those guys who had those two songs in those Apple ads’. There are certainly worse problems to have as a band, but the risk of having your music pigeon-holed and dismissed must also be fairly high. In their third album however, ‘Love Notes/Letter Bombs’, The Submarines haven’t gone for any extreme changes but instead have refined the sound of the first two albums into a very strong record that will see them break out from the shadow of the apple once and for all.

As the name indicates, this is an album all about opposites and contradictions. Look no further than the interplay between the vocals of John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard, at times in perfect harmony but at other times in a pattern of call-and-answer which appears almost like a battle. Ivaloo sees a gently strummed ukulele battling with a synth for dominance, with the former eventually winning. It’s a captivating and very endearing song, probably my favourite on the record. Opening numbers Shoelaces and Fire meanwhile are more straightup synth-driven anthems very reminiscent of Matt And Kim, and I mean that in a positive way.

The album unfortuantly lulls slightly in the middle- The Sun Shines At Night for example seems like a caricature of the band’s music with a pulsing synth underpinning the mediocre lyrics of “The sun shines at night, we’re in love and it feels so right”. It’s far from inspired songwriting, but then I guess maybe that isn’t really what people are after from The Submarines anyway. Thankfully things pick up with the fantastic A Satellite, Stars, And An Ocean Behind You, which sees Hazard’s voice take prominence backed by a very cutesy guitar riff.

‘Love Notes/Letter Bombs’ is a very straight-up indie pop record, for better and for worse. When it works, it can sound absolutely brilliant, such as in much of the first half of the album, however when the band falters slightly it stands out starkly against the polish of the rest of the record. While far from perfect, this is a squeaky clean album and a welcome antidote to a lot of the new music going around at the moment. 

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