In September 2016, The Handsome Family (a duo formed of husband and wife Brett and Rennie Spark) released their 10th studio album Unseen for the first time on their own label. Apparently, the band’s favourite track off their newest album is Gentlemen so that’s sure to be good live.
The couple met in college in New York in 1986 and hasn’t it been a journey since? The couple married before they began the band which was formed in Chicago in 1993 with former member Mike Werner as drummer. Interestingly, the band’s name stemmed from Werner nicknaming Brett ‘handsome’.
Brett is vocals, guitar and keyboard whilst Rennie takes vocals, banjo and bass. Their sound is alternative-country Americana. Their songs are created with Rennie as lyricist and Brett writing the music. Rennie’s surrealist lyrics are brought to life with music full of country sensibilities and instrumental considerations from Brett. This band is all about harmony they say ‘don’t work with your spouse’ but with ten albums under their belt they are certainly an exception to the rule.
Their song Far from Any Road from the album Singing Bones was used as the theme for the first season of True Detective and shot the band into the spotlight but even with success it’s clear that they are extremely passionate about song-writing and making music.
The lyrics are extremely intriguing and form stories- folk poetry. Rennie creates a dream space with words. In particular, I found the lyrics from the track Winnebago Skeletons off the album Milk and Scissors really interesting.
“There’s a fish in my stomach a thousand years old. Can’t swim a full circle, the water’s too cold.”
Then, later on in the song…
“This fish in my stomach wears a full length mink, but his teeth float in sherry in a jar by the sink.”
For a surreal but refreshing performance of crafted music, The Handsome Family are the way to go.
The Handsome Family play Concorde 2 on March 3rd at 7pm with support from Courtney Marie Andrews. Tickets on sale now at £16.50.