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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 15 August 2000
'Through The Trees' should have warned us. Branches rustled without a breath of wind: song-birds fell silent and strange black clouds darkened the sun: A chill runs through your room but there is nowhere to crawl that does not suddenly appear shrouded in melancholy. Still, it could all have been an aberation. Maybe just a fluke coming together of two currents that for the brief duration of 13 unspeakeably beautiful, haunting songs, created something quite unique and terrible. However, 'In the Air'is like waking from the dream to find you are still dreaming. Heavens, the back cover of the CD case should have been sufficient warning to us alone! People, think carefully before buying these new songs. How much do you value your view of the world? I met Rennie Sparks a while back after their gig in Edinburgh and asked her what happens to Poor Lenore (track 7) after the song. Lenore has been carried to the top of a dead tree (where the heartbroken go) by crows. This mattered to me. At first Rennie denied knowing the end of the story. Then, possibly picking up a desperate look in my eyes, took hold of my hand and said, 'Well, yes, maybe in the end she does get down from that tree'. This, and a set that had the audience shuddering and laughing in equal measure, was so intoxicating that I floated from the theatre. For a few hours, I was fooled. A few hours remembering the tender way she cradled her autoharp, before seeing one of those poor blackbirds, singing its heart out under the orange glow of a street light shook me back to the reality of the Handsomes lyrical word. Lenore doesn't make it down from that tree. She's there still; at least her ghost is, waiting to sing her sorrowful story to any traveller accidentally wandering down that damp, dark pathway. Her hair whispers in the wind as the snow begins to fall and her mouth, endlessly, fills with blood. The Handsome Family stand utterly alone in the world. Leave behind everything you thought you knew and lie down in the dark rolling sea. When you get to the bottom, they will kiss you to sleep.
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on 11 March 2002
This has to be one of the most enjoyable albums that I've heard in quite a long time; that could apply to all of the Handosme Family albums when I think about it. In the Air is crammed full with delightful lyrics, courtesy of Rennie, that encompass the fullest range and extremes of human emotion all with a grandness and devotion to drama that is most infectious. The melodies and instrumentation are also a delight. This is all then accompanied by the joy that is found in Brett's voice; it's a cracker. Full bodied, rich, deep, strong and resolute one moment then delicate and frail the next. Quite an asset for a duo already full of talent and sincerity, as well as romance and humour, to have. That last description has to be key too; romance and humour. The Handsome family have an angle on romance that is very traditional and yet modern too. For them romance is to be found every where from the everyday and mundane to the exceptional and the fantastic and this sense of romance is usually accompanied by an extremely endearing sense of humour that allows the two to see their world (and ours) as somewhere that fun and happiness can sway along in harmony with the dark and sadness whilst always wearing a smile. Give it a go, go on.
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on 9 December 2001
I've never heard any other songs that are as wonderfully bitter and twisted as these absolute gems from these two EXCEPTIONALLY GIFTED musicians... these songs bring utter joy to me, even though most of them are about lifes losses and regrets.
What I adore about HF is their complete originality... I mean, who else sings about being scared to cross the bridge to see their lover? Who else creates deserts of melancholy merely by singing about the bottom of a wine glass?
Admittedly, to understand the music of HF you do need to be very broad-minded musically - I play this to many people just for the hell of it and yes, most of them don't get it... the ones that do I normally find are the people that are more adventurous and open-minded about their music choices and do not pre-judge it. I now have every album by these two wonderful people and HF now rate as my favourite groups of the last 10 years (matched only by the sheer brilliance of Belle & Sebastian of course!!).
Yes, we all have our opinions and I respect that - HF aren't everyone's cup of tea, but for me the world is a much better place since I fell in love with the Handsome Family!
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on 13 June 2012
In my continuing exercise to rate all the Handsome's studio releases, their fourth album, 2001's In The Air is next up. So far I have given Odessa 4 stars, Milk and Scissors 4 stars and Through The Trees 5 stars.

Through The Trees is not only the Handsome's best album, it is one of the finest albums I've ever heard, so it is a difficult act to follow. So the fact that In The Air falls a bit short is no disgrace because, in my view, precious few albums by anyone have come close to Through The Trees this millennium.

In The Air is fairly similar in style to it's predecessor with its mix of Americana, Country, Bluegrass and Pop and is the album where The Handsome Family cemented their signature sound first laid down on Through The Trees after their more rock infused first couple of albums. It takes a while to get going but when it does with the fourth track, the lovely, string laden A Beautiful Thing, it doesn't let up and reaches another peak with track 11, Lie Down which features wonderful dual guitar work by Brett Sparks. In The Air is a very fine album indeed.
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on 29 March 2000
This is as good if not better than Through the Trees. Brett's voice sounds even better and the arrangements are very accomplished.
It's still as mad as you like. Sometimes sad and sometimes even a bit maudlin at times but it will haunt you with its imagery as did the last release. I can't get "Too Much Wine" out of my head.
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on 23 April 2015
Most of the magazine and newspaper reviews believe it to be the best album - I would agree!! There are couple of great tracks and that's more than you get with any artists cd's nowadays.
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on 6 April 2013
As expected each purchase gets more interesting, really can't wait for the new release. Each one I get is as good as the last, highly recommended.
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on 15 December 2009
"In the Air" is a nice blend of genres which reminded me of Johnny Cash and also of Simon and Garfunkel, not forgetting Kashtin, the Inuit band which was very successful in Canada a few years back.
Pleasant and easy listening.
B. Haezewindt
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on 29 December 2000
Found out about the Handsome Family from a Loose Records compilation (check out the next one - it's rumoured to have Grand Drive and a new one from the fantastic Eileen Rose on it). This is soulful, honest stuff with a hatful of good melodies. Definitely worth a listen.
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on 6 June 2000
I cannot believe this one got good reviews - a set of stunningly awful 4-track demos by a seriously ungifted couple. I usually hate selling stuff second hand no matter how bad, and very rarely do, but I can never see myself liking thi......
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