Release Date: May 14, 2013
Record label: Carrot Top
Genre(s): Folk, Alt-Country, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Traditional Folk, Alternative Country-Rock
Listening to the Handsome Family’s music feels a bit like traveling to another world—a place both beautiful and frightening, where the cry of a bird or the whispering shake of a tree branch can herald great cruelty and pain. It’s not a world I’d want to be stuck in forever, but I’m always grateful for the chance to visit. That holds true for the band’s ninth and latest record, Wilderness, a loose concept album in which contemplation of Nature serves as a springboard for more of the band’s journeys into dream-like surrealism.
Wilderness, the tenth long-player from the New Mexico-based husband-and-wife team of Brett and Rennie Sparks (the Handsome Family) lives up to its ecological moniker with a 12-track set that invokes both nature and nurture, with an emphasis on the shady bits in between. Once again, Brett handles the melody side of things while Rennie conjures up the stories, and oh what diabolical tales they are. Each song is named for a beast, bird, amphibian, reptile, or insect, and like a Kafka short story or a Michael Sowa painting, they occupy that strange, ill-defined moment between a particularly vivid dream and the cruel bleat of the alarm clock.