Fun House by Hand Habits Album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions

Saddle Creek

9

Hand Habits

Fun House

Meg Duffy, the mastermind behind Hand Habits, has been getting a little bit harder, a little bit more intricate, and utilizing more of a band line-up, with each release, after their first album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), an indie folk record, which they recorded themselves at home, to critical acclaim. But nothing I think would prepare you for how out there, how full on bombastic, (as well as “folk on fire,”) their new album is.

With their single, Aquamarine, they shared their new experiments with sound with the world, in a song that has a dancey beat, a bouncy, clubby bass, and vocals that are more like something off 4AD than the indie folk that they’re used to sharing through their work. In press, Meg attributes a good deal of that pushing the envelope to their producer and roommate, Sasami Ashworth (SASAMI). They were also in contact with brilliant songsmith, Christian Lee Hutson, during the recording and would send him in progress tracks, looking for helpful feedback and support. The band that they play with, Perfume Genius, even appeared on one of the tracks of the album, an influence you can definitely hear on the album. They’re surrounded by music greats, that’s for sure.

There is a great variety on the album, and you can definitely still hear their indie folk roots on songs like “Graves,” a heart wrenching number about leaving the past in the past, “Clean Air,” a conflicted love song where they sing with feeling, “Can’t deny your point of view,” and “The Answer,” an Elliott Smith-like number that Meg said they were able to combine a couple of songs they were writing, a la Perfume Genius. Among others.

It’s still Meg Duffy doing what they do. In a Brooklyn Vegan interview they credit Fleetwood Mac’s album Tusk for influence in their songwriting and production, and you can hear it in the melody-, harmony-, and guitar-rich direction they’ve taken their whole career. It’s a refreshing and bold turn Hand Habits have taken on this record, after the music world has been sort of retreating into the folk-stylings of the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus.

It’s a visceral record, sonically, lyrically. Singing as they’re wont to do, about love and loss, but with years’ more experience under their belt. “I needed more than loving you.” “There is no difference between you and me.” “Watch me, I’m still giving it all away.” It’s a perfectly constructed record, from its starting line, “Tonight I put on the song,” to the last line of the record, “I can change I can change I can change.”

It hits the highs with exultation and gumption and reaches the lows with empathy and heart. It’s any guess what Meg and Hand Habits is going to do next. But it’s sure to be good.

Order Fun House by Hand Habits HERE