albums, music

Like The Hole Torn Right Through the Roof

The Handsome Family

The Handsome Family

I’ve had a couple of listens to Together Through Life, but it’s too early to come up with anything but a snap judgement. (My instinct is, though, that the four star reviews are misplaced.)

Fortunately, it’s been a bumper week or so for new music, with both Camera Obscura and King Creosote releasing new records. (By Fuselage says some sensible things about KC’s latest here, and there’re the usual Pitchfork noodlings about Camera Obscura in that site’s reviews section.) I’d like to talk about another album entirely, though – Honey Moon, The Handsome Family’s wedding anniversary present to themselves.

I first came across the Handsome Family about ten years ago, via the Exposed Roots collection; their ‘Weightless Again’ stood out from some of the more leaden alt.country on that record. In tis version, it was all gothic sounds and rumbling baritone: the song begins, ‘We stopped for coffee in the red wood forest / Giant dripping leaves, spoons of powdered cream,’ before expounding upon self-annihalation. (‘This is why people OD on pills […] Anything to feel weightless again.’) The weirdness was compelling.

Brett and Rennie Sparks have been married for twenty years now, and you might expect an album celebrating this fact to head towards safer territory, but the first line of this album of love songs is, ‘Like the thorn bush twines against the chainlink fence.’ Also on the record is a song called ‘The Loneliness of Magnets’, a song about how spiritless downtown Alberquerque looks except for five minutes a day at sunset, and one which likens love to ‘an asteroid in flames tumbling to Earth.’ Rennie is a poet and novelist, and her lyrics retain that pride in the unexpected image; Brett find the quirks in the words’ implied phrasing and cases them in arrangements which curl deliberately at the edges.

All this makes for a rich record: I bought it together with Flick The Vs and My Maudlin Career, but its combination of catchy melodies and askance poetry have kept it in the CD player at their expense. Honey Moon is a curiously moving listen, depicting as it does two people united in an at times sour word by the particular (and perculiar) perspectives they share. Even if they do cast themselves as cavemen and ravenous wolves, they make it sound so very sweet.

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