The Submarines - Love Notes/letter Bombs
Los Angeles band The Submarines suffer in comparison to their Brooklyn-based counterparts, Matt & Kim. Both bands are made up of one man and one woman. Both play percussion-heavy, hand-clap-littered, shout-y indie pop. Both have the earnestness and zeal of an eight-year-old that’s just gotten his first drum kit. Matt & Kim’s Grand shows how well this formula can work. The Submarines’ Love Notes/Letter Bombs shows how easily it can backfire.
Which is not to say Love Notes isn’t frequently good – ‘Shoelace,’ ‘Ivaloo,’ ‘Birds’ and ‘Plans,’ are worth a listen. It just seems like every other song on the album falters under the weight of gimmicky production. A lemon shaker here, a glockenspiel there. Echoes, fade-ins, verse trades, fuzzy bass lines. What seem like hundreds of different guitar, vocal and percussion elements in the space of a single song. More often than not, it feels less like music than it does a cutesy assault on your ears. Lyrics like “Did I break your open heart? After ten years together, we’re still ten years apart” don’t help matters any.
Singer Blake Hazard has a pleasant voice – she bears a strong vocal resemblance to the Cardigans’ Nina Persson – and when the band dials things down a bit, as they do on the closing track ‘Anymore,’ the effect is lovely. When they go full-speed ahead, however, as they do on ‘The Sun Shines at Night’ and ‘Fire from Love Notes,’ the effect can be slightly dizzying. And dizziness can lead to nausea.
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