John Darnielle's Panasonic boombox had finally died, and his home studio that had figured prominently on his previous albums was no more. However, his new label put him up in a professional recording studio with his old friends Peter Hughes and Franklin Bruno of Nothing Painted Blue. Darnielle wrote the strongest song cycle of his career, starring his "Alpha" couple. They've landed in Florida, apparently to live out their days drinking themselves to death. The opening title track is a death march as powerful in its way as "Nebraska" was for Bruce Springsteen's album. The album proceeds to grow darker, with sad anecdotes and tales laced with black humor. The couple's belongings show up on the moving truck in "First Few Desperate Hours" as their sense of displacement sinks in. "Game Shows Touch Our Lives" is the nearest the couple comes to joy. "No Children" is a screed of bad going to worse, where the childless couple are in love with their demented ways and actually with each other. It's a brilliant album about codependency.