Declare a New State!
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2006, Volume 13, #8
Written by John Metzger
For all intents and purposes, The Submarines’ debut Declare a New State! is a public therapy session. Given that the group’s founders Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti subsequently married, their uninhibited, self-absorbed emotional outbursts apparently were quite successful. Fortunately, the album is, too. Throughout the set, the duo ruminate upon their painful break-up, mixing barbed comments with lost and lonely lamentations. Most of the material was penned individually, and by alternating between Hazard’s and Dragonetti’s songs, The Submarines establishes a conversation that guides the listener through the outing’s narrative arc, which concludes with the couple’s inevitable reconciliation.
The big issue that plagues Declare a New State! (and ultimately weighs it down), however, is that both Hazard and Dragonetti have a tendency to overstate the obvious. A closer examination of their lyrics reveals an air of contrivance that initially might be missed. Still, there’s no mistaking The Submarines’ ambitions. Although the collection musically features a fairly typical blend of indie pop and electronic textures, the dreamy sadness of the duo’s vocals mixes with their resplendent arrangements to form a blissfully bittersweet brew that makes their confused, emotional turbulence palpable. Better still, the band’s melodies are so immeasurably warm and inviting that they essentially illuminate the material’s darkened hallways. The squiggly mechanics of Modern Inventions and the alluring, Belle and Sebastian-meets-Wilco atmospherics of Peace and Hate undeniably serve as Declare a New State!’s highlights. Considering that these are the two moments in which Hazard and Dragonetti sing together, it bodes well for The Submarines’ future endeavors.
Declare a New State! is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box