Posted by: Johnny Loftus on May 30, 2008 at 1:00 pm

The Submarines, Honeysuckle Weeks (Nettwerk, 2008)

Listen: “The Thorny Thicket”

As members of bands (Starhustler) and masters of their own domain (she released solo material under her own name; he used the moniker Jack Drag), Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti have been around this indie game for awhile. When they surfaced as the Submarines in 2005, it was with Declare a New State!, a pleasant bit of indie pop that was nevertheless about breakups. Fast -forward to 2008, remove the bitterness and long faces in some of those songs, and you have Honeysuckle Weeks, and album that could only be more precious if it Nettwerk gave it away in wicker baskets full of cuddly kittens. The keyboard line that winds through “The Thorny Thicket” resembles those of Helium if Mary Timony had been obsessed with international coffees and sweet meats instead of dragons and medieval death trips, and then there are its lyrics. “Love! Love! And the skies opened up,” Hazard sings with the brightest of cheery sentiment, and when Dragonetti joins in with whispers of a summer day, it just gets more sweet. There’s nothing wrong with sweet, necessarily. But it’s a one-note trick, just like rote punk rock or un-evolved industrial metal. Submarines find some crackle in “You Me and the Bourgeoisie,” but for evil or for good, one-note albums still tend to say little. From the processed LA pop of “1940″ (think Fiona Apple in a way better mood) to “Maybe”, which rhymes “strong” with “wrong” over strains of mellotron and some choppy percussion, the Submarines have a record that does everything safe and nothing distinctive. At least “Fern Beard” gets points for having an awesome title. — Johnny Loftus

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