12 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Brett and Rennie Sparks love a concept, and Wilderness, The Handsome Family's ninth release, is among their more interesting. As you might guess from the song titles, which are the names of creatures great and small, this album explores the wonders and mysteries of nature—sort of. The creatures are really a starting point for a look at human behavior in its equally mysterious and varied forms. Understated and laced with black humor, the songs are delivered by Brett in his distinctive oak-tree baritone, an ideal vehicle for Rennie’s bizarre and beautiful lyrics. Metaphors, bold imagery, and memorable characters abound. Songs study a woman who's struck by lightning and then wrapped in a cocoon; a man torn to pieces by spiders, ants, and snakes; and the fate of Mary Sweeney, who smashed every window in her town one night. Moody and suffused with subtle musicianship, the album features guitar, piano, banjo, mandolin, pedal steel, and brushed drums used most patiently. And it sounds incredible. Wilderness is another collection of gothic folk tales from a duo with a seemingly inexhaustible supply.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Brett and Rennie Sparks love a concept, and Wilderness, The Handsome Family's ninth release, is among their more interesting. As you might guess from the song titles, which are the names of creatures great and small, this album explores the wonders and mysteries of nature—sort of. The creatures are really a starting point for a look at human behavior in its equally mysterious and varied forms. Understated and laced with black humor, the songs are delivered by Brett in his distinctive oak-tree baritone, an ideal vehicle for Rennie’s bizarre and beautiful lyrics. Metaphors, bold imagery, and memorable characters abound. Songs study a woman who's struck by lightning and then wrapped in a cocoon; a man torn to pieces by spiders, ants, and snakes; and the fate of Mary Sweeney, who smashed every window in her town one night. Moody and suffused with subtle musicianship, the album features guitar, piano, banjo, mandolin, pedal steel, and brushed drums used most patiently. And it sounds incredible. Wilderness is another collection of gothic folk tales from a duo with a seemingly inexhaustible supply.

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