Arranged Marriage - Dearly Beloved (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Arranged Marriage

Dearly Beloved (2010)

Suburban Sprawl

My dad and I connect on a musical level, in that we both enjoy Bruce Springsteen and U2. He always wanted to play drums; I know how to play drums. But our musical relationship pales compared to the one father and son duo Brad and Scott Allen possess. Under the moniker Arranged Marriage, they've recorded a full-length, Dearly Beloved, which bridges the years between their generations. The album at times recalls both Harry Nilsson and Wilco, or George Harrison and Matt Sharp.

That the two have common musical ground shouldn't be too surprising. Contemporary indie has drawn quite a bit from '70s singer/songwriters, folkies and country balladeers in the last decade. But this familial combination sure puts a fine point on the connection. It's clear that the name reflects just how well the two musicians' tastes converge.

But then, the influences they draw from approach near-universal levels. Take "Brand New," a track that would fit in perfectly with the Beatles' druggy period. It's hazy and the vocals take on an alien quality at times, but it's still poppy and disciplined, just like the Beatles, a band that has succeeded in being completely over- and underrated by everyone on the planet.

Dearly Beloved might grab people's attention with its backstory, but it's the tunes that make the record worthwhile. Tracks like "Not a Waste of Time," "Is All Mine" and opener "Sit Alone" are catchy, self-contained indie pop pleasures. The record's only real drawback is the slight sameness of the songs. After "Brand New," things might blur together for some listeners, but the songcraft is still fairly solid throughout. These guys knew what sound they were pursuing, and approached it with discipline, filling songs' margins with handclaps, auxiliary percussion and backing vocals galore. This stuff should go over well with folks regardless of whether or not they're invited to the next Allen family reunion.