Music Review: The María’s 'Submarine' immerses listeners in a blue world of mellow dance beats

When the indie pop band The Marías emerged in 2017 with their first EP, “Superclean Vol. 1,” they quickly solidified a sound.

It wasn't any one sound, really, but a sonic identity. With lead vocalist María Zardoya’s mellow, romantic vocals serving as the unifier, the band's productions were free to oscillate between dance beats, Latin instrumentals and jazz rhythms — and their lyrics between English and Spanish — all while furthering their multi-genre, distinguishable and often hypnotic, audio footprint.

On the quartet's second LP, “Submarine," The Marías sharpen those features without losing the genre-bending experimentation that characterized their EPs and major label, Grammy-nominated debut album, “Cinema."

“Ride,” the album’s opening track, is an invitation into the album's landscape. Starting with ambient tones that give way to muffled electric guitar sounds courtesy Jesse Perlman, Zardoya sings: “Careful while you’re cruising/Gonna be a ride/Introducing submarine," as the sound surges and then dives, taking us underwater.

The album, like its cover and the aquatic world its title evokes, is blue: There's an inherent melancholy to many of the tracks, all of which were written by Zardoya and producer and drummer Josh Conway. But that ride is still a fun one. The lead single, “Run Your Mouth,” has the same cool, funky confidence of the band's 2021 hit “Hush.”

There's a sense of urgency to the chill “No One Noticed.” “Maybe I lost my mind," Zardoya sings in her heady tone, “No one noticed/No one noticed."

There's the risk that Zardoya's genial singing could accidentally smooth the album tracks together. But the band avoids that here, as before, by staying true to their genre-jumping roots and serving up varied, lush productions. “Blur” is less than blurry, as a steady drum beat builds to a flowing, intense bridge. Prominent piano and featured horns give “If Only” an eerie allure. And Zardoya switches to Spanish in the beautiful “Lejos De Ti.”

All the while, wet sounds continue the album's subaquatic journey. “Echo” is dotted with bubble-like effects; the guitar riffs in “Paranoia” are splashy and light; “Love You Anyway” starts with the revving of what could very well be a submerged engine. “Sienna” brings back muffled instrumentals to close the album.

We were promised a submarine ride after all, weren't we? Listeners will enjoy sinking into these songs.


AP music reviews:

Elise Ryan, The Associated Press