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Single Review: The Lumineers – ‘Submarines’

2 min read

In a post-Mumford and Sons world, the music scene has been inundated with rustic folk bands, complete with flannel shirts, suspenders and banjos. The Lumineers are no exception, however they’re probably one of the few bands that actually do it right.

The Lumineers SubmarinesAfter years of hard work, The Lumineers finally achieved overnight success last year with their single Hey Ho, due mainly to its use on an ad for search engine Bing and an appearance on Conan O’Brian’s late night talk show in the USA. Now, they’ve released their debut album (for the second time, after it was largely ignored when it was released by little-known imprint Dualtone Music Group), and their new single, Submarines.

I find Submarines to be a confusing song. At first listen, Submarines seems quite a happy song (not overly, but it definitely doesn’t strike you as a sad song). It’s not unlike everything else they’ve ever released: pounding acoustic music that sounds a bit like a cross between a sea-shanty and a chain gang stomp, which lead singer Wesley Schulz has likened to the sound of a “bunch of sailors on a ship, arm-in-arm”. It even starts out with the sound of soft waves and seagulls, before strings, piano and acoustic guitar join the mix of a sleepy sea-side bar. A simple staccato piano and vocals then comes in, before building to include almost military sounding drums and The Lumineers hallmark chanting. The lyrics, on the other hand, deal with trust and credibility; the story of a man who sees Japanese submarines and tries to warn the townspeople, but no one believes him. “In the end it boils down to credibility/ I had none, so I will die with the secrets of the sea”: poor guy. I guess the whole sea theme totally goes together, it’s just the pleasant music versus unfortunate story that gets me.

Other than that, Submarines is a perfectly good song. It’s nice to listen to, and the Denver trio sure do roots revival better than most, but it’s certainly no Hey Ho.