The Marías – Submarine

An impressive return...

The Marías struck gold with their 2021 debut album ‘Cinema’, a breakout moment that seemed to contain a unique sound. Synth-infused indie pop with a psychedelic soul, the songwriting hinged on the friendship between Puerto Rican-bred, Atlanta-raised María Zardoya and Los Angeles native Josh Conway, and contained a palpable sense of freshness.

After two years of touring, The Marías went back into the studio to sculpt a follow-up. Joined by Jesse Perlman and Edward James to complete the quartet, the core songwriting duo pushed themselves further, on a record that moves between different moods.

Lead single ‘Run Your Mouth’ was the first offering from the record, and it’s The Marías at their most immediate. Magical alt-pop that recalls Oh Wonder by way of María Zardoya’s Puerto Rican roots, it builds and builds, tapping into their live prowess while also showing studio control.

It’s not always as straight forward as this, however. Dipping into their more lysergic side, ‘Submarine’ shows the band let loose with a multitude of effects – vocals are blurred, guitars smudged, while synth settings are unpicked. Often deftly experimental, ‘Submarine’ can be a puzzling, intriguing listen.

That said, the band never surrender their pop touch. There’s the precocious ‘Lejos De Ti’, or ‘Echo’ with its Khruangbin groove; the sultry ‘No One Noticed’ or the darkness of ‘Paranoia’. Refusing to be tethered to one idea or statement, The Marías allow themselves to drift, and that makes the album all the more engaging – subtle shades of light and dark are intertwined, often within the same song.

Concluding with the brooding ‘Sienna’ – “please tell me not to go” – this is a crisp album, well curated and often surprising. Building on the success of their debut while never being over-shadowed by it, The Marías move past the barrier of the tricky second album with no small degree of confidence.

7/10

Words: Robin Murray

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