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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the last days of wonder...
For the last few years I have lived with friends and magazines constantly mentioning this band, but had somehow never gotten around to actually listening to them (the friends, the magazines or the band). What a fool I've been.
My first foray into husband and wife team, Rennie and Brett Sparks and their minimilist country, alt-folk creations came when I purchased...
Published on 8 Jun 2006 by TreacleEater

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'd rather say this is their least best than their worse!
This is the Handsome's seventh studio album...and, in my quest to review each of their albums, my seventh review of theirs (you won't be surprised to hear). All of their previous six albums have achieved at least a 4 star rating so it is with some regret to say that The Last Days of Wonder, being my least favourite album of theirs up to that point, falls a little short...
Published on 6 July 2012 by A. J. Gilpin


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the last days of wonder..., 8 Jun 2006
This review is from: Last Days of Wonder (Audio CD)
For the last few years I have lived with friends and magazines constantly mentioning this band, but had somehow never gotten around to actually listening to them (the friends, the magazines or the band). What a fool I've been.
My first foray into husband and wife team, Rennie and Brett Sparks and their minimilist country, alt-folk creations came when I purchased their "Live at Shuba's Tavern". I was immediately drawn into ther world and felt that I had known of their music forever.

I have not been let down. Last Days of Wonder is all that I thought it would be and more. From the opening "Your Great Journey" a studied, lyical musing on death wrapped up in a country sheen, to the sublime "Somewhere Else To Be" with its tale of a person, driving, unable to connect with people when they have the chance to, because "there are cars behind me and I had somewhere else to be." Beautiful.
The varied use of instrumentation and the arrangements all serve to draw you in to each song. Mr Sparks' voice is a truly wonderful instrument (deep and emotional)and the music which wraps itself around Mrs Sparks' beautifully descriptive, wrought words, gives this record a real heart.
This album deserves everyone of it's five stars and I for one will certainly be emptying my pockets of all available cash to secure their back catalogue. If you like your music to covey humanity, truth, beauty and above all great songs....Enjoy.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On top form, 4 July 2006
This review is from: Last Days of Wonder (Audio CD)
This duo sound to be in perfect form on the new album, providing a set of songs that are stuffed full of what makes The Handsome Family so enjoyable. Beautifully produced and performed the songs are full of wit and wry gloom. 'After we Shot The Grizzly' is laugh-out-loud funny, elsewhere the writing conjures real pathos. The arrangements vary from straightforward cowboy-country to the vaguely surreal and even a politely snarling electric guitar on 'All The Time In Airports'. Top quality stuff.

Fans will love it, newcomers may just be hooked too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'd rather say this is their least best than their worse!, 6 July 2012
By 
A. J. Gilpin (Cardiff, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Last Days of Wonder (MP3 Download)
This is the Handsome's seventh studio album...and, in my quest to review each of their albums, my seventh review of theirs (you won't be surprised to hear). All of their previous six albums have achieved at least a 4 star rating so it is with some regret to say that The Last Days of Wonder, being my least favourite album of theirs up to that point, falls a little short. Well, one of their albums has to be my least favourite, I suppose. Their last album, The Singing Bones, was their quietest and most country sounding album up to that point and this album is even quieter and even more country. That is fine if that is the sound of theirs you like best but it is not as much to my taste as their first five albums. That said, there is not a bad song on it and, indeed, there are some excellent tracks - Tesla's Hotel Room, the rocky All The Time in Airports, Hunter Green (with a rare full Rennie vocal) and the final track, Someone Else To Be - enough to give the album 7 out of 10.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such lovely melodies, such dark lyrics, 9 Dec 2008
By 
Straightforward (Twickenham) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Last Days of Wonder (Audio CD)
I thought I'd add a review here, to try and define what it is that makes this duo so remarkable.

I first gave this album a listen about a year ago, and I have been returnng to it ever since - on the first listen I wasn't quite sure what to make of it at all; the instruments in the background make very pretty and soothing sounds, while the deep voice of the male singer gently sings the words over the top. It was certainly soothing.

But the thing that sets this band apart is the dark sinister lyrics - paired with the lovely melodies it's a strange mixture but it works brilliantly. It has quite a humorous effect!

They have the same flavour as Nick Cave at times, or Tom Waits - if you like either of these I'd wholeheartedly recommend them to you. People go crazy for their music and I can see (and hear) why now.

Try listening to 'After we Shot the Grizzly' in the MP3 download previews for a perfect example of what I'm trying to describe - you won't regret it! An extract from the lyrics:

"After we shot the grizzly,
After the airship crashed,
After we lost the compass,
After the radio went dead

We shot and ate the horses,
We marched through deadly swamps,
Inside a limestone cave
I found a human skull...

(Yes Mary, I found a human skull)

The Captain caught a fever,
We tied him to a tree.
We stared into the fire
And tried not to hear his screams

I killed a tiny antelope
Not scared by my approach.
We turned it over the dying flames
As we huddled in the glow.

(Yes Mary, we huddled in the glow)

We built a raft from from skin and bones -
Only five could safely float.
The others stood upon the shore,
They screamed and threw sharp stones

(Yes Mary, they threw the sharpest stones)"

You'll have to listen to the song to find out what happens next!

This is backed by an alternative Country - style band (Guitar, Banjo etc.) in a jaunty style.

It's a very funny album, and it's so nice to find a new band that I absolutely adore. I think you might well feel the same way after listening to it, too.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2008 and I'm waiting for the follow-up to this excellent album, 4 Jun 2008
By 
J. Fletcher - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Last Days of Wonder (Audio CD)
First heard this band when maybe as long as 10 years ago "Weightless Again" appeared on a music magazines "New Country" compilation. Since that time I've bought their back catalogue and each new album. I now have all their recordings.

Where does this album rank? ..., well IMO it's their best to date & a triumphant return to form after the disappointing "Twilight".

The only Handsome Family albums that don't deserve 5 stars are Twilight, Odessa , Milk and Scissors. If it were possible to give 5+ stars (a platinum merit award) then "Last Days of Wonder" would get it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up to standard?, 12 Nov 2006
By 
J. M. Marshall "Touchwood" (Redcar, NE England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Last Days Of Wonder (Audio CD)
I have to admit that my first hearing left me wondering if the magic was starting to fade - but then I found that traces of some tracks were staying with me in the usual haunting Handsome Family way, and subsequent listenings have confirmed my view that this is yet another superb offering. It's not always easy music, but well worth a bit of investment. One or two tracks I'm not sure of yet, time will tell I'm sure, but already there are two or three firm favourites. Up to standard? Definitely.
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