A.V. Club

Brett and Rennie Sparks have been married and making music for more than a decade, and over that time, they’ve settled into a signature sound combining Brett’s deep baritone and penchant for mid-tempo alt-country balladry with Rennie’s surreal, macabre, often whimsical lyrics. For eight albums, the approach has yielded more than its share of solidly crafted gems, though by now surprise is no longer much of a factor. The new Honey Moon colors within the same lines. Recorded to mark their 20th wedding anniversary, the album narrows the lyrical focus to a single topic—love—and downplays the murder ballads and apocalyptic imagery of earlier discs. Still, Rennie’s choice of romantic imagery is as genially warped and haunted as ever. “A Thousand Diamond Rings” returns to a favorite theme of finding moments of strange beauty in the utterly mundane, as an Albuquerque sunset reflects off broken glass next to a pawnshop. She paints an idyllic vision of love in verdant groves in “Junebugs,” but her puckish sense of humor turns that idea on its head elsewhere, exploring the tenderness in the courtship of insects and primitive cave-people: “I perch on branches and bellow, while dreaming only of thee.”

– Christopher Bahn