The Upshot: Consider it the aural equivalent of painter Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” a work of art so elegant and assured it stands out on its own.
BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Sparse, mysterious and exceptionally alluring, the seductive sound created by The Handsome Family’s Brett and Rennie Sparks reinvent classic gothic music in ways that bows to timeless tradition. Yet, it also suggests a style that’s uniquely their own, imbued with unaffected honesty and quiet dignity in its designs. Unseen alludes to The Handsome Family’s darker realms, but the beauty it boasts is so unerringly mesmerizing, it begs repeated hearings simply to soak it all in. The duo’s harmonies on “The Sea Rose” ought to be ample enough reason enough to convince, but “The Red Door,” the track that follows, seals the deal, elegiac and timeless in ways that recall any number of traditional standards. Likewise, “Green Willow Valley,” the album’s sentimental send-off, confirms the group’s commitment to making music so precious and profound, it practically defies description. Granted, the band’s stoic approach is decidedly old school, one that would befit a convergence of Quakers prepping for summer solstice, but even in that solid, sturdy way, they demand absolute attention. Consider it the aural equivalent of painter Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” a work of art so elegant and assured it stands out on its own. Indeed, credit The Handsome Family with conceiving an essential modern masterpiece that’s irrefutably all their own.
DOWNLOAD: “Green Willow Valley,” “The Red Door,” “The Sea Rose”