The Sunday Times: Honey Moon

The Handsome Family: Honey Moon
To celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, the alt-country stalwarts Brett and Rennie Sparks have temporarily averted their gaze from death and dark things and fashioned an album of love songs. The range of idioms that this sunny topic has inspired is their widest yet. From doo-wop to bluegrass and vintage Tin Pan Alley, with a dollop of Gram Parsons-style country-rock, the Handsomes seem tremendously energised by pop’s oldest subject.

The melancholy undertow to their harmonies is still audible and their trademark lyrical obliquity is well to the fore in titles such as The Petrified Forest and The Loneliness of Magnets. But the pair have never sounded more mutually enraptured than they do on When You Whispered, or Darling, My Darling, and the playful quality to June Bugs suggests that, after eight albums, there is still much for the Sparkses to explore. – Robert Sandall