Old friends Matt Sweeney and Will Oldham (better known as Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) circled around each other for years, working together here and there before making 2005's collaborative Superwolf album which has grown in stature over the years. They really bring out the best in each other, even when working from a distance, with Bonnie sending lyrics -- sometimes on postcards -- and Matt thinking long and hard how to put them to music. Long indeed, as they've actively been working on Superwolf's follow-up for five years, in-between other projects. Superwolves is worth the wait, a gorgeous marriage of poignant prose, poetic playing, and Bonnie's powerful pipes. Also: popsicles.
Superwolves is a record to sink into and let wash over you. Mostly gentle and sparse, Matt's deceptively complex melodies and delicate finger-picking pairs perfectly with Oldham's ruminations on fatherhood, aging, love and death. Sometimes all of those themes are evident at once, like on the wonderful "Resist the Urge," where Bonnie tells his daughters that he will be there for them, even in the beyond. "I may not be here bodily," he sings, "But in the wind, I’m here," all set to a sprightly, spring-like melody and Matt's arpeggiated fretwork that reinforces the words of reassurance. That song's twisted flipside is "Good to My Girls," a sweet-sounding fictional character piece that at first seems to also be about a more stoic approach to fatherhood but is actually about a brothel madam and the ladies who work for her.