Some people make therapeutic music; others make music that demonstrates a need for therapy. Chicago's The Handsome Family, made up of husband and wife Brett and Rennie Sparks, plays a little of both. After they released their second album of dark country and Appalachia, Brett was diagnosed as bipolar and briefly committed; Rennie soon followed suit with a bout of severe depression, and out came the Prozac. Now they're feeling better, which is to say that the music is still dark but their problems are under control. Brett's melodies have never been particularly original, but combined with his wife's haunting and literary lyrics, the songs are almost otherworldly, like a great novel brought to life through music. Death permeates In The Air, with lines like, "Don't you know it's human to want to kill a beautiful thing" and "Lie down in the deep rolling sea" looming conspicuously in the midst of even the most upbeat songs. "Up Falling Rock Hill" begins with a violent fratricide, while "Grandmother Waits For You" envisions a final resting place like an elephant graveyard, littered with old wheelchairs and discarded hearing aids. Coming from a married couple, "My Beautiful Bride" packs perhaps the most brutal twist: "My hands they shook as the noon bells chimed," sings Brett, "so at the last bell I showed her my knife." The material is morbidly Gothic but also painfully simple, a world where murder comes quicker than happiness and crows carry off hapless victims, painful sacrifices that substitute for love in The Handsome Family's songs.