The Submarines’ Honeysuckle Weeks opens with “Submarine Symphonika,” an indie-pop garden of clattering, percussive beats, euphoric, string-swept verses, and swooning popcandy choruses that just as easily could’ve been titled “Overture.” Essentially, it’s Weeks whittled down into a four-minute miniature.
Alternately delicate and explosively giddy, the album is something of a rarity in the pop universe: a nuanced celebration of marriage and contentment that doesn’t crumble under its own lassitude (I’m looking at you, Sky, Blue Sky and Planet Waves). After having documented their romantic dissolution on Declare a New State, Blake Hazard and John Dragnetti have returned with Honeysuckle Weeks, a portrait of their reunion and marriage that wipes the blood off the tracks with a busy, kitchen-sink musical style that mirrors the jittery exuberance of the subject matter.
From the arcing, near-symphonic melodies that tangle with a lush overgrowth of twinned vocal harmonies within “The Thorny Thicket,” to the chiming stomp of “You, Me, and the Bourgeoisie,” the album is almost irresistibly catchy.
It isn’t, however, immature. The mistake of coating the disc with a loveblind veneer is neatly sidestepped with tracks like “1940.” With its druggy, dubby spirals of slowgroove beats and the stinging trickle of Hazard’s knowing, sensuous vocal, “1940” is garden of melancholic '40s-era string arrangements that form a sepia counterpoint to the modern Technicolor production. The collusion of disparate sounds creates an aural rift to match the dark introspection (for this album, anyway) of the cautious, doubting lyrics: “Something’s wrong when you regret/ Things that haven’t happened yet.”
A (mostly) sunny blast of eclectic soundscapes, Honeysuckle Weeks is a record of love and happiness that actually leaves you as content as its subject matter, a giddy (rather than guilty) pleasure of dizzying pop noise.
We might all live in a yellow submarine, but the duo that is the Submarines lives in Los Angeles. The band's music contains a lot of the happy, sunshine-fueled pop sound that L.A. churns out so much of. Honeysuckle Weeks is the follow-up to the group's 2006 debut Declare a New State! While Declare was conceived of largely while the romantic couple of Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti (formerly of Jack Drag) were broken up, Honeysuckle features the two collaborating in full. The band recorded the album in its own garage studio. L.A. indie-orchestral collective the Section Quartet adds strings to many tracks.
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