The Submarines, Honeysuckle Weeks (Nettwerk, 2008)

Originally from Boston but currently living in Los Angeles, The Submarines are a duo consisting of John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard. Honeysuckle Weeks is their second album. With the exception of the occasional use of a string quartet, Honeysuckle Weeks is an entirely homemade record, with Dragonetti and Hazard playing all the instruments. The resulting no-frills feel of the record generally works, although the album suffers a bit from the absence of an accomplished drummer.

Blake Hazard does most of the singing. Her voice reminds me of The Cardigans' Nina Persson, especially on the sunny, 60's-inspired pop songs that make up most of the album. Dragonetti provides an effective change of pace on the three songs he sings, especially "The Wake Up Song."

The album's single and standout track is called "You, Me, and the Bourgeoisie." This song cleverly mixes modern alternative rock with the Pet Sounds era sound of The Beach Boys. At first glance the lyrics might seem a bit flowery -- "everyday I wake up, I choose love, I choose light" -- but the song quickly turns into a commentary on how we surround ourselves with countless amusements but not with enough things that are truly meaningful. (Somewhat ironically, the song has gotten significant exposure from its use in a commercial for the iPhone 3G.) It's also the one track on the album where the percussion is really creative enough to enhance the song.

Honeysuckle Weeks boasts a couple of good songs, with the rest of the album being at least pleasant. The Submarines' music is readily accessible pop with a sixties retro feel. Dragonetti and Hazard probably need to bring in a full-time drummer to get their sound to the next level, though.

Overall grade: B

reviewed by Scott

"You, Me, and the Bourgeoisie"

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