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Hand Habits – “Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void)”

February 21, 2017 Leave a comment

The loose genre of “bedroom” (or DIY, lo-fi, etc.) music is not normally associated with technical prowess. It’s defined by a certain lack of professionalism; artists who are lumped into it are known for ramshackle home recordings that attempt to convey an intimacy that is sometimes lost in a recording studio. On her debut solo album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), Meg Duffy — aka Hand Habits — proves that the intimate, home recording style doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive from artistry and skill.

This is her first full length album, but Duffy is clearly not one of these artists who decided to throw together a record at home for the fun of it. Wildly Idle is remarkably self-assured; its songs all mosey along at a slow pace, as she gently unspools her melodies and beautiful psychedelic-tinged guitar parts. The structure of these songs shows her confidence: Duffy knows she’s good enough to keep the attention of the listener, and this album is never boring despite its languid style.

Much of that is due to her sheer ability as a guitarist. Duffy’s mellow guitar heroics are reminiscent of Deerhunter/Lotus Plaza’s Lockett Pundt and Galaxie 500’s Dean Wareham — guitarists who aren’t necessarily flashy, but create feeling with their instrument and have the confidence to show restraint when the song calls for it. Her judiciousness with the guitar makes it more effective when she does display her shredding ability, like in the middle of “All the While,” a highlight that also sums up this album’s looking-outside-the-window-on-a-rainy-day feeling.

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