Hand Habits: Fun House [Album Review]

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Hand Habits
Fun House
Saddle Creek Records [2021]

It is always nice to hear an artist grow with each album they release. I think that is exactly what you will find with Hand Habits third full length, Fun House, as Los Angeles-based musician Meg Duffy takes their time with every piece on this album and delivers a new found confidence on each track here. Fun House is not a pandemic album but very much a record that developed out of the pandemic. Like so many other artists, Duffy was grounded and the alone time pulled these songs up from deep within. That connection to the music can be felt on every turn here but what could have been a record that stayed the previous Hand Habits course now highlights a sonic departure from the more subdued Placeholder (2019) and Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) (2017).

This musical expansion is how Fun House becomes Hand Habits best album to date. On “No Difference” and “Just To Hear You,” friend and collaborator Mike Hadreas (of Perfume Genius) contributes vocals which immediately makes both tracks stand out with their duetting harmonizing vocals. In other places, like the catchy “Clean Air,” you can find Dave Hartley from The War On Drugs on bass providing excellent support as Duffy sings with all their passion, “I can no longer stand at the gates of your love; I can no longer ask this of you.” The track is a great example that highlights Duffy’s personal reflection and a better understanding of it after taking a pause.

Fun House was produced by Sasami Ashworth (SASAMI) and engineered by Kyle Thomas (King Tuff). Ashworth gets credit for pushing the songs into unexpected new structures for Hand Habits and the results give Fun House multiple dimensions. The album is really a true step forward for Hand Habits, especially on several of the more up-tempo numbers, and I honestly can’t imagine Meg Duffy returning to simpler times. In fact with this record, Hand Habits has elevated their indie game as Fun House has a high replay value that only gets more ingrained in your head with every play!

Thomas Wilde
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