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The Marías dive into heartbreak and acceptance on Submarine


Release date: 31 May 2024
The Marias Submarine cover
07 June 2024, 09:00 Written by Michael Hoffman

The Maria’s return is a promising one.

Each intentional, instrumental flourish on the LA-based quartet’s sophomore effort, Submarine, along with María Zardoya’s beautifully layered melodies throughout, proves that focusing on the tiny details can yield one of the most lush, expansive albums of the year. Syncopated, looped vocals that act as an alternate drum beat throughout “Hamptons,” their own subtle take on reggaeton (like “Un Millón” before it from their first album Cinema), the ever-so-slight bubbling start to “Echo,” and the shimmering guitar that surfaces on “Paranoia” are testament to Zardoya’s collaborator and bandmate Josh Conway’s meticulous production on an album that revels in nuance.

Although the album doesn’t quite reach for the orchestral peaks and valleys of Cinema, it is no less exciting or cohesive than its predecessor. In fact, Submarine takes many hypnotic moments from their first album and expands further. The chorus of “Paranoia” is a melody that The Marías reference as a motif elsewhere (see “Just a Feeling” and “Hable con Ella” from Cinema), clearly threading together narrative and sonic sensibilities throughout their oeuvre. Even the intro track, “Ride,” is an homage to cinema, like their entire debut album, where Zardoya’s warped vocals recall the Electric Light Orchestra, claiming “We can make a movie / we can take our time / introducing Submarine / Careful while you’re cruising / Gonna be a ride.” Listeners are left astonished at the true sonic beauty of it all, and it’s clear this band wants to re-envision rock with sultry elegance. Indeed, we’re propelled through 45 minutes of pure dream pop bliss, just left wanting more.

The funk and disco groove of “Run Your Mouth” is one of the many tracks that showcase The Marías’ refined, sensual vision, and really, every track submerges us in a singular, shimmering sound, cohesively blending dream pop, jazz, funk, and disco throughout. Like Stereolab before them, and their contemporaries, Men I Trust and Crumb, The Marías are inspired by lounge jazz, 60’s pop, and bossa nova — only the band takes those influences and pushes them into tight, catchy pop songs that are wholly their own and will undoubtedly be on blast with the windows down (or perhaps rolled up like a submarine to take in the depth of those baselines) throughout the summer.

It’s rewarding to hear a song like “If Only,” a tribute to Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan’s “Green Grass,” off of Waits’s album Real Gone, which interpolates the melody of the original but pushes it to new heights with Zardoya’s delicate vocals, a far cry from Waits’s gravelly original (Waits is credited as a co-writer on the song and a family friend of Josh Conway). Here, The Marías prove that all their music, especially the heartbreaking ballads, have the cinematic quality of a song off a classic film score, lamenting the vestiges of a relationship and the entanglement that ensues, as Zardoya sings “I can’t say goodbye / Even when I try.”

Almost every song is filled with addictive choruses (“Echo,” “Run Your Mouth,” “Paranoia,” “Love You Anyway” and “No One Noticed” really stand out), proving that The Marías are one of the most exciting, polished alt-pop acts to emerge on the scene. Submarine gives us the lyrics and symphony to the word bittersweet, thoughtfully detailing the ups and downs of heartbreak, as detailed in “Ay, No Puedo,” (“Sí es amor / Es tan bonito y echo pedazos”) that seems to speak to love and pain beyond measure. To understand The Marías’ latest work is to be submerged in love lost and to accept when to come up for air.

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