At once jaunty and reflective, “Birds” offers up an appealing mix of the electro and organic, as husband-wife duo John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard augment their based guitar-and-keys sound with strings, bird song, sing-along harmonies, and—a first for them—a live drummer. (And hey, it’s Jim Eno, from Spoon.) More than most electropop, this song sounds like it was recorded by real people in real three-dimensional space. Warmth permeates, and the electronic tools utilized feel all the more effective in this setting. This is something I suspect that more bands are likely to understand in this new musical decade: the power of integration. Now that we can literally concoct any sound we want at any time, creating more and more new sounds is no longer a particular talent. The talent is to integrate the sounds we have in newly effective ways. Just making electropop suddenly becomes a narrow and uninteresting pursuit; learning how to incorporate the sounds of electropop into a broader aural spectrum—much more interesting, and fun, I should think.
To hear a bit of the power of this, check out the difference between the song’s two instrumental breaks. At 1:25, a ghostly synthesizer line gives way, via a manipulated drumbeat, to two varieties of strings—the rhythmic pizzicato pluckings of violins, and the low bowing of a cello. And then at 2:42, the same opening melody is voiced with a more classic electro sound, which now leads into a spiffy shot of backwards guitar lines. That the song has led up to this instead of just fed us this electro diet from measure one—and that the electro elements have grown naturally from the aural palette of the overall song—is a great part of the charm, to me.
The Submarines are based in Los Angeles and have two previous full-length albums to their credit (and were featured on Fingertips back in 2006, at the time of their debut). “Birds” is a track from their forthcoming album Love Notes/Letter Bombs, slated for an April release on Nettwerk Records. MP3 via Spin.com. Bonus Submarines trivia: Hazard is the great-granddaughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald.