The Submarines continue to erase the border between indie pop and electronica-lite on Love Notes/Letter Bombs, the couple’s third collection of tortured, peppy love songs. Having shared frontman duties on their 2006 debut, the two have settled into their individual roles by now, with Blake Hazard serving as lead vocalist and husband John Dragonetti -- who composes music for commercials and television shows during the band’s downtime -- taking responsibility for most of the instrumentation. Dragonetti’s experience with TV music has influenced the band before, with two cuts from the sophomore effort Honeysuckle Weeks winding up in iPhone commercials soon after the album’s release. The songs on Love Notes/Letter Bombs are similarly jingle-worthy, but they also fall short of the tunes on past albums, as if their hooks weren’t designed to endure anything longer than the 30-second playtime of a TV ad. Songs like “Ivaloo” and “The Sun Shines at Night” are memorable exceptions, and Dragonetti explores some interesting territory throughout the album, combining synthesizers and tweaked, computerized sounds with the organic hum of acoustic guitars and handclaps. Sonically, it’s the Submarines' most interesting record to date. Melodically, it’s a bit spottier than usual, relying heavily on a handful of highlights to shoulder the weight of the saggier numbers.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey