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CD REVIEW: Modern Marriage - Happy But It Wanes
By Steve Allat - 02/21/2005 - 04:21 PM EST

Artist: Band: Modern Marriage
Album: Happy But It Wanes
CD Review: Label: Independent
Tracks: 10
Released: 2004
For Fans Of: K's Choice, Concrete Blonde, R.E.M.
Fav Tracks: Teddy, Glow, Some Vacation, Entertainment

Modern Marriage is a 5-piece from Georgia fronted by lyricist, vocalist & guitar player Becca Bessinger. It's not often I can pinpoint a sound, but if you put K's Choice & R.E.M. in a blender (don't try this at home), you'd be pretty close to this. But, as with good songwriters and bands, they are strong enough in their own right to transcend. Otherwise, I'd be recommending you go listen to K's Choice or R.E.M.! That's been done, so let's move on . . .

Led by Becca's voice & lyrics, MM's sound is very steady and grounded. She comes close to 'sounding like' at times, but doesn't. She uses her range to her advantage and doesn't try to sing anywhere but her zone, making the songs stronger for it. She sounds good whether singing soft or strong. But even though I enjoyed her vocals, I would have liked some (prominent) backing vocals in places to fill up the sound.

Songs are very well put together and the music is great - simple three-part music (bass, drum guitars), but that's all that's needed. The sound & tone are consistent and serve the song. Even though this is a five-piece, it sounds somewhat more like a singer/songwriter approach with a group of players who are really in tune with the songs. This is probably because Becca sets the tone with her lyrics and vocals.
The feel of their music is a little bit melancholy, with vocal tone and music to match the lyrics and album title (previous EP's include 'The Stigma of Supposed to Be' and 'Lonely When I Wake'). It's not going to snap you out of a funk, but it's not really going to put you in one either.

Some of the songs are less memorable, but at least they each have their identity despite the similarities. The pace of the disc is pretty even - it doesn't speed or slow down, rather it trods right along melancholy lane at a satisfying pace.

The recording could have had a bit more ooomph to it, and again, perhaps some more prominent backing vocals would have finished it off for me.

It sounds like they are making steady progress, and are working at taking their time to do it right, just like a good marriage. The recent introduction of two new members and their decision to focus on writing without touring shows me that they take each part of their music seriously, and I'll be looking forward to listening to what they come up with next.

With a foundation of strong songwriting, an identifiably different voice and fine performances, this band should be heard of more and that'd be ok by me.

Contact: Modern Marriage | Becca Bessinger
Website: Modern Marriage

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