Honeysuckle Weeks

Inspired by John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard’s break-up (the two penned songs about their separation, learned later what each was writing, then recorded together), The Submarines’ 2006 debut, Declare a New State, treats electronica and twee pop as equal partners. On Honeysuckle Weeks, the duo toil within these same parameters: looped, processed background vocals and laptop drumbeats frolic with clipped acoustic guitar play and fuzzed-out electric chords. The opening of “Swimming Pool” is an example of how delightfully everything can blend: soft blips that sound lifted from the motion trackers in Aliens plug the gaps in a finger-picked melody. And on “1940,” a dusky, Portishead-lite soundscape accentuates Hazard’s words of bedroom angst: “You couldn’t sleep for the awful fright / That kept you up in bed last night.” But this perfect-sounding synthesis is why Honeysuckle Weeks disappoints. While the album’s best moments evoke the male-female harmony of groups like the Brunettes and the Transatlantics, the Submarines’ debut flourished thanks to Dragonetti and Hazard’s fractured relationship and the strain over making such diametric styles (and feelings) conflate. “We’re gonna take this town back,” the pair sing in “Fern Beard.” Hey, how about a little less togetherness?