The Submarines – ‘Love Notes/Letter Bombs’ – Album Review

Review by Helen Brown

Love Notes / Letter Bombs - The SubmarinesLove Notes / Letter Bombs – The Submarines
  From unrequited love to hidden desires, and everything in between: The Submarines’ third LP, Love Notes / Letter Bombs, explores the gamut of these emotions. The album consists of 10 sunny indie electro-pop songs direct from California. The first few tracks are cute duets with the chemistry-ridden male and female vocals of John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard – including ‘Ivaloo’ with a charming ukulele riff and string section – on the subject of exploring your friendships, following your heart and discovering new feelings for one another. Afterwards, Love Notes/Letter Bombs changes direction and focuses more on internal feelings and insecurities from a female perspective.

The strength in this album is derived from a feeling of natural progression in the timeline of a love cycle, making it a rather easy listen. Even blossoming young summer love is celebrated, in ‘The Sun Shines at Night,’ where she (Hazard) has no doubt in her mind about her feelings, but his (Dragonetti’s) doubts are holding him back. ‘Birds’ is the sensual seduction song, where she wants to take him home and for them to give into the feelings bubbling beneath the surface: “If we could only surrender, let it in / we’d never have to ask what we were missing.” There is also a touch of whimsy in ‘Where You Are,’ about her desire to travel and her willingness to follow him anywhere. Moving along in a steady pace, we have the heart-break song ‘A Satellite, Stars and an Ocean Behind You,’ describing a long distance relationship using terms like “fading line” and “broken satellite.” The clever thing about this stand-out track is that it can be taken literally as physical distance, or metaphorically as emotional distance: “After ten years together / we’re still ten years apart.”

One weakness of Love Notes/Letter Bombs is in the subject matter: a number of tracks have the exact same message but are just expressed in different ways. Boy and girl are best friends. Girl wishes they were more than friends. Girl desperately wants boy to love her the same way she loves him. Boy is worried about changing their relationship. Girl accuses boy of not giving things a chance, and for giving up before they have even started: “Sometimes, failure requires a certain effort.”

The closing track by The Submarines, ‘Anymore,’ implies that boy and girl are already in relationships and are falling, and cannot control how they really feel, for each other. But these feelings reveal her jealousy and her ugly side, so she decides he is better off without her. Hazard sends the same message in the opening tracks, hinting that this is a never-ending cycle she cannot break. Love Notes / Letter Bombs is an album to which many can relate – the love that never was, and regret at what might have been. Two people have the potential for something beautiful together, but it remains unacknowledged. With the songs entirely in first person, the album creates a deeply intimate, at times compelling, soul-bearing experience.

(My rating: 3 and a half out of 5)
By Helen Brown

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