Roundtable Discussion: A Review of The Marías’ ‘Submarine’

Submarine - The Marías
Submarine - The Marías
Atwood Magazine’s writers unpack The Marías’ sophomore album ‘Submarine,’ discussing everything from how they expanded their signature jazzy production style, to Maria Zardoya’s breathtaking vocal performances, to how she and her bandmates are taking their lyricism to new levels of vivid storytelling and vulnerability.
Featured here are Atwood writers Ben Niesen, Hannah Burns, Marc Maleri, and Josh Weiner!

Submarine - The Marias

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To start, what is your relationship with The Marías’ music?

Hannah: I fell in love with CINEMA in the heat of Summer 2021. I was living alone for the first time in my life, right before my senior year of college, and listened to music constantly to fill the quiet. Their song “Little by Littlebecame a fast favorite of mine; one of those songs that appeared on every playlist I made for well over a year.

Marc: I first discovered The Marías in 2020 after stumbling upon “Carino” in a Spotify Playlist. That song was the perfect introduction to the group; it embodies the band’s lyrical unpackings of love, jazzy and groovy production style, and seamless fusion between English and Spanish lyrics. Ever since then, I’ve consistently listened to the group, lead singer Maria Zardoya’s voice backed by their distinct instrumentals and production is soothingly addictive.

Ben: My first experience with The Marías came right when their debut record was released. While I thought that the album was well put together, I was in an edgy phase of disliking any product that was “cinematic” because the phrasing suggested to me that the desire was to create a soundtrack more so than an album of original music. Obviously an album titled CINEMA does not really inspire confidence otherwise. I had similar issues with records by Dope Lemon, Kowloon and especially Kit Sebastian. But, y’know, time heals and all of that, and now I can appreciate The Marías for the talent that they are, rather than the product I thought them to be.

Josh: I hadn’t heard about them before this roundtable was announced, but since I’m a big fan of said roundtable tradition, I decided to give it a go and have a listen. I’m very glad I did so!

CEREBRAL SLIDESHOWS: THE MARÍAS MARRY THE ARTS OF FILM AND MUSIC IN EXPANSIVE DEBUT LP ‘CINEMA’

:: INTERVIEW ::



What are your initial impressions and reactions to Submarine?

Submarine - The Marias

Hannah: I hadn’t seen the news that Submarine was coming, so it was an incredible surprise to wake up and see it suggested on my Spotify. The record was everything I could hope for from a sophomore album — summer sound slick with sweat, sultry and shameless. Submarine is a total submersion, refreshing and effortless.

Marc: After hearing one of the leading singles, “No One Noticed” for the first time, I couldn’t have been more excited for Submarine’s release. My first listen to the album had me saving almost every song; what struck me the most was that The Marías didn’t seem to be dramatically switching their sound or moving in a different direction for the album, rather, they were building upon all the aspects that already made their music so terrific. The lyricism is at an all time high on Submarine with incredibly vulnerable tracks like “No One Noticed.” The vocal layering and production is at its funkadelic peak, with tracks like “Hamptons” and “If Only” displaying how far the band can flex their sonic muscles. Submarine is definitely on track to be one of my top albums of the year.

Ben: I am in the same boat with Hannah, this album sprang upon me and I realized “oh, lord” it’s been three years already? My first impression of Submarine was the same impression I have with most records: it all feels very samey. But then, like paint on the walls, you let it dry while you do your thing and then, you look around and say, “damn, there’s a lot of textures on this sucker!”



The Marías Explore Intoxicating Detachment in “No One Noticed”

:: TODAY'S SONG ::

For those more familiar with the band’s full catalog, how does this album compare to The Marías’ debut album Cinema – what are the most striking similarities or differences?

Submarine - The Marias

Hannah: The production of the albums have satisfying continuity, as with the themes. If anything, the difference to me is the certain sleekness and sophistication Submarine offers. “Blur” for example, has a similar groovy guitar and falsetto as “All I Really Want is You.” “Paranoiatouches on trust and independence in relationships, just like “Heavy.” The one difference that struck me is that Submarine features slightly less Spanish lyrics than CINEMA, with only “Lejos De Ti” and “Ay No Puedo.” CINEMA featured tracks that would slip in out of English and Spanish, and I did find myself missing that approach in this album.

Marc: This album feels much more cohesive in comparison to Cinema. From the approach to the production, to the order of the tracklist and even the album cover, Submarine is a fully realized vision. While I thoroughly enjoyed Cinema, it felt a little disjointed at times, trying to be a few different things at once. Some of the most memorable moments from Cinema for me were when songs like “Heavy” struck that perfect balance of captivating production and thought provoking lyricism. Submarine strikes this balance throughout the entirety of the album, allowing for an incredibly satisfying experience while listening.

Ben: CINEMA was much more straightforward with the smoky jazz lounge vibes and the “cinematic” appeal, the idea that they created an album for a film that does not exist. A similar vibe exists on Submarine, but I think expert touch of producer Gianlucca Buccellatti helped the band immensely. Altogether, they pull off a fantastic job of what the press release says for this record: “a sense that you’ve been here, but that the geography has evolved.”

The Marías © Bethany Vargas
The Marías © Bethany Vargas



The Marías teased Submarine with “Run Your Mouth,” “Lejos De Ti,” and “If Only,” and “No One Noticed.” Are these singles faithful representations of the album?

Submarine - The Marias

Hannah: “Run Your Mouth” and “No One Noticed” are two of my favorite tracks, so I think they were certainly indicative of how connected I’d feel to the album.

Marc: “No One Noticed” remains one of my favorite tracks and the other singles have no doubt been in my musical rotation as well. I think these singles were a means of ensuring fans that The Marías were not about to abandon their signature sound and were in fact making it better than it had ever been.

Ben: I am a crazy, anti-single, old soul who believes that the only way to experience an album is through the album, not the singles. And I don’t ever expect that to change. But the fact that The Marías made a bold choice to hold their fire on some of the more delightfully delicious deep cuts was wonderful, while still releasing records that were emblematic of the full album experience. To be sure, The Marías rarely step out of form, but “No One Noticed” and “Lejos De Ti” aren’t just symbolic of the record, it’s symbolic of the band’s entire appeal as a Latin-flavored electro-lounge-jazzpop band. “If Only” is probably the one that steps the most outside of what the album wants to do, a sort of Bondian villain ballad that calls back to the cinematic roots of the first full-length, while still feeling wholly connected to the shifting geography of deja vu and nostalgia.

Josh: I agree with Ben, these singles establish the new-school-Latin-music atmosphere that dominates much of the ensuing record. So, I’d say yes, they represent the rest of the album well.



Maria Zardoya has been quoted saying, “Through this album, I was able to transform my pain into tangible words and sounds.” Does this statement capture the spirit of these songs, and where do you hear or feel it most?

Submarine - The Marias

Hannah: “Vicious Sensitive Robot” develops the feeling of pain and discontent with modern relationships with the lyrics: do it all to make your day / anything to take the pain away-ay / and if you don’t see why I gotta go / maybe I should get away / I would love to get away-ay-ay-ay. She is beautifully articulating the toxicity of technology that allows us to be constantly accessible to each other, threatening our autonomy. The distinctive sound of “If Only” feels like a somber lullaby, with piano and horns, instrumentals pleaing.

Marc: I think in both her lyrics and the songs’ production, Maria Zardoya has personified her experiences and emotions throughout Submarine. Whether it be the bass guitar solo at the end of “No One Noticed” or the sultry picture painted in “Hamptons,” you can feel every emotion being conveyed throughout all notes and beats.

Ben: In my journal I wrote that this record is like if Fleetwood Mac went to group therapy before making Rumors. I think there are moments where that shines brighter than others, but if you look at the lyrics across the entire record, Zardoya is pretty consistent and not afraid to have a raw go of it with her words. The entirety of “Real Life,” but in the first verse especially: “I can’t stay forever this way/ I’ll break, I won’t be the same/ It’s true/ I wanna lay with you.” Like, damn, Maria, are we just going to commiserate on what it’s like to love somebody who will break/has broken you? Well, I’m into it.

Josh: It looks like the other writers have already identified plenty of spots where The Marías spin their past pain into compelling lyricism. So, I see no reason to be contrarian in that department. Maria Zardoya’s statement is indeed an accurate one.

The Marías "Run Your Mouth" © Bethany Vargas
The Marías © Bethany Vargas



Which song(s) stand out for you on the album, and why?

Hannah: Upon first listen, “Echo” was an instant hit. I added it to a playlist by minute one. I think it stood out to me because it resembled Cinema with its punchy sound, then cemented itself as a favorite when my creative writing close-reading brain activated. As the third song on the tracklist, it has this tension and momentum that is unfurled throughout the rest of the record. The bridge establishes the central narrative: The moon turned black when I left you / your T-shirt still on my back / got lifetimes left to forget you / I should’ve turned back / but I wasted it all for nothing / for a light that’ll never last / now I stand at your front door / hoping that you’ll take me back. The tempo adds to the urgency of these lyrics, and the situation described in this song ripple through Submarine in thematic echoes.

Marc: The songs that I can’t stop listening to are “Paranoia,” “No One Noticed,” and “Hamptoms.” Both “Paranoia” and “No One Noticed” have that heartbreaking production that you can feel in your chest, something I think The Marías are keenly skilled at. The continuity between these two songs is also something I found very satisfying; they feel like they’re talking about the same connection, Paranoia being a progression of that relationship post the events of “No One Noticed.” “Hamptons” embodies their ability to create these intense, femme-fatale like beats that are lovely to listen to.

Ben: I’m gonna double tap “Real Life,” beyond just the lyrics, the bridge of that song pops like a jazzy rework of the guitar from Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” for Gen Z. And then the stutter-step vocal phrasing on “whi-whi-white liе” and “goo-oo-oodbye?” Just delicious. I’m with Hannah on “Echo” being an insta-banger. That was the prime target of my comment about how the band judiciously saved the best for album-only experiences. But let’s give “Vicious Sensitive Robot” some flowers, too. It’s criminally underplayed on the Spotify app and is probably the best song on the entire back half of the record.



Do you have any favorite lyrics so far? Which lines stand out?

Submarine - The Marias

Hannah: The final song, “Sienna,” has some of the best lines in the whole album. Among my favorites: I live under your eyelids / I’ll always be yours. It’s playful, depicting proximity in love, to be so close that your image lingers under a lover’s eyelids. Not to mention the closing lines, with their sharp imagery: On the beach in the winter / when the waves were mad / down by the water / crystal clear / see her face in the forest / then it disappears.

Marc: The bridge in “No One Noticed” remains one of my favorites lyrically: Come on, don’t leave me / It can’t be that easy, babe / If you believe me, I guess I’ll get on a plane / Fly to your city, excited to see your face / Hold me, console me, then I’ll leave without a trace. It perfectly displays the complexities of dating someone who is extremely evasive coupled with the repetition of the lyrics and vocal layering throughout, it’s a very memorable moment on the album. “Sienna” lyrics are also hauntingly gorgeous with lines like: On the beach in the winter / When the waves were mad / Down by the water, crystal clear / See her face in the forest then it disappears. Zardoya’s ability to bring listeners with her to a physical space through lyrics is wildly impressive.

Ben: Oh lord, I’m double tapping again. I really enjoyed the chorus of “Vicious Sensitive Robot;” Zardoya’s lyrics “I got myself so high/ I can’t look down/ Do it all to make your day/ Anything to take the pain away-ay/ And if you don’t see why I gotta go/ Maybe I should get away/ I would love to get away-ay-ay-ay” pull off the same phrasing trick as “Real Life” to a slightly less dramatic effect, but with all of the break up romance.

Josh: I like the Spanish lyricism here a lot. For instance, I was moved by the writing on “Lejos de Ti” – “El frío, la noche, siempre me acuerdo de ti. Miles de canciones, siempre me acuerdo de ti.” Plus, as I type this, I am just coming off an unseasonably chilly evening in late June in Montreal, so a line about “El frío, la noche” resonates quite soundly with me.



Where do you feel Submarine sits in the pantheon of The Marías’ discography?

Submarine - The Marias

Hannah: Submarine has just barely surpassed CINEMA for me. CINEMA has years of listening to support its claim, so it is hard to top, but the cohesive narrative and sound of Submarine has to outrank it. “Run Your Mouth” has serious song-of-the-summer potential.

Marc: Submarine has allowed The Marías to cement themselves sonically, their sound feeling fully fleshed out and realized on this album. It pulls from their first two EPs and Cinema to make for a gratifying, emotional, and memorable piece of art.

Ben: Do two albums and a pair of EP’s really constitute a pantheon? I think you need to be further into the career by that point, probably more like six albums deep or something similar. Then again, I consider every record of Tame Impala a pantheon piece, so who am I to talk? I digress, Submarine has the best production, easily. And for most, that’ll probably rocket the album to the top, especially new listeners. I also abide by that rule, but I fully understand if people say “yeah, it’s good, but CINEMA is still my favorite.” I’m the same way with plenty of bands.

Josh: As I stated before, I didn’t know about The Marías until just now; I just wanted to take part in a roundtable, since that is one of my favorite platforms of participation with Atwood. But Submarine was indeed a strong album, so I wouldn’t be surprised, when all is said and done and I’m all caught up, if I wind up ranking it highly in The Marías’ overall catalog.

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:: stream/purchase Submarine here ::
:: connect with The Marías here ::
Stream: “If Only” – The Marías



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Submarine - The Marias

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? © Bethany Vargas

Submarine

an album by The Marías


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