Courtesy of Atlantic Records

June 5, 2024

The Marías Dive Into a New Era with ‘Submarine’

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On Friday, May 31, the Los Angeles-based indie pop band The Marías released Submarine, their sophomore album. Anyone who has listened to The Marías before knows they have a very particular sound, characterized by psychedelic guitar riffs, breathy vocals and jazzy undertones. Submarine displays the very best of their signature sound, but it has a twist: while The Marías are generally known for their love songs, this album is a breakup album, and the former couple at the heart of it is lead singer María Zardoya and the band’s producer Josh Conway. Submarine is a pensive, melancholic exploration of the breakup, and with both Zardoya and Conway at the wheel, it made for an extraordinarily interesting listen.

“Ride,” the album’s introduction, is a thumping, electric opener that sets the underwater scene for the rest of the record. It is followed by “Hamptons,” a reggaeton-inspired, largely instrumental, production-heavy track. The true start to the album, however, is “Echo.” As Zardoya explained to Variety, “the lyrics in ‘Echo’ are painfully honest so it was one of the hardest ones to get through.” In fact, “Josh [Conway] went to Europe shortly after ‘Echo’ was written if that tells you anything.” Not only is “Echo” one of the most lyrically impressive songs on Submarine and one of my personal favorites, but this track also features uncharacteristic clarity in Zardoya’s voice, which is much hazier in the majority of The Marías’ other songs. The lyrics, when taken with the underwater effect when Zardoya sings “overdramatic” just after the bridge, make “Echo” a definite standout.

Following “Echo” is “Run Your Mouth.” In an interview with NPR, Zardoya and Conway shared that this track was written soon after the breakup, during a period when they were “conflict avoidant” — something that is especially evident when Zardoya sings “And I know that I could never get away from you / Yeah, I’ll wait for you to turn around and talk it through / But we won’t.” Interestingly, “Run Your Mouth” is relatively upbeat — a curious decision, given the song’s subject matter.

“Real Life” was written as a band, according to The Marías’ interview with Variety. It contains a powerful bass line, underscoring its sleepiness leading up to the dreamy chorus, during which it perfectly compliments Zardoya’s breathy voice. “Blur” features the signature breathiness of Zardoya’s voice as well, and is especially notable for its overall funky yet grungy jazz-infused sound.

Next is “Paranoia,” a catchy, upbeat track whose true highlight is Jesse Perlman on guitar. The band told Paper Magazine that the song developed very naturally, and that’s extremely apparent. This is typical for The Marías, according to Zardoya: “Melody and lyrics, the whole song will just flow through as if some external force put it there,” she said.

“Lejos de Ti” was one of the singles off the album and one of the two Spanish songs it includes. Focused on the difficulty of being in such close proximity to someone but not having the same level of intimacy you once had, this delicate, mournful song adds an immense amount of depth to the album. “Love You Anyway” continues this theme, and has yet another somber earworm chorus.

Another highlight of this album for me is “Ay No Puedo,” a beautiful, heartbreaking, nostalgic track with a truly gorgeous instrumental backing. “No One Noticed” encapsulates everything that makes the sound of The Marías uniquely theirs: the soft vocals and the rich musical accompaniment that make you feel like you’re levitating when you listen to them paired together. “Vicious Sensitive Robot” is certainly an interesting addition, as it magnifies the underwater effect of the album and features an intense buildup to the outro, which comes somewhat abruptly — almost like it’s foreshadowing the album’s end.

To round out the album, The Marías present “If Only,” a haunting, jazzy track that puts Edward James’s keyboard skills on full display. The final song is “Sienna,” which Zardoya describes to Variety as being “like seeing the future you wanted just completely vanish out of nowhere.” As she puts it, “We could have had a child together and named her Sienna…but because we broke up, Sienna will never exist.” The crescendo at the end of “Sienna” was definitely a fitting choice for the end of the song, but I am left wondering why it was chosen to conclude the record. The Marías were a product of the union between Zardoya and Conway, which resulted in great music that predated Submarine — “Cariño” and “I Don’t Know You” have maintained spots on my playlists for years. The Marías are staying together despite their breakup, so why finish the album in a way that so clearly marks the end of something? We may never get an answer to this question, but one thing is for sure: The Marías certainly aren’t done yet. The deluxe version of Submarine is on the way, and I’m itching to hear more.

Sydney Levinton is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].