There is a moment halfway through Hand Habits’ Fun House at which musician Meg Duffy asks the question, “How many times must I rewind the tape?” It’s a fitting question planted squarely in the middle of a sonically adventurous record concerned largely with making sense and taking stock. How much time must we spend examining our own past in order to fully understand it? How can we safely acknowledge pain in order to release it and fully actualize who we are supposed to be? Buffeted by strings, synths, and a gently-shook tambourine, the aptly-titled track, “The Answer,” highlights the emotional engine at the heart of the record. “I know t… Duffy sings, “Here’s what I hope to find – it’s always mine.”
Fun House is Duffy’s most ambitious Hand Habits album to date. Produced by Sasami Ashworth (SASAMI) and engineered by Kyle Thomas (King Tuff), the record was not intended as a reaction to the pandemic, but it was very much the result of taking a difficult, if much-needed, moment of pause. “When the pandemic happened, everything stopped,” recalls Duffy. “I had been touring consistently for five years, both on my own and playing in other people’s bands, so I wasn’t really writing a lot in between. It had been full pedal to the metal in terms of traveling and scheduling, which meant I really didn’t have a lot of time to think about how I felt or really check in with myself. Then, when the world basically stopped, it turned out to be the longest I’ve been alone in my entire life – without being in a relationship, without being on the road, without working myself to exhaustion – and the result was really like, holy shit. I slammed on the brakes and everything psychologically that I’d been pushing down and ignoring for the past few years suddenly flew to the foreground.”
“I Keep My Feet on the Fragile Plane” – Allegra Krieger’s fourth record and her first with Double Double Whammy – is her most mature and alluring work yet. It contains all the signatures of her best lyricism: delicate and precise phrasings, moments that flicker between beauty and banality, meaning that forms through the accretion of observations, memories, and unexpected adages. This is an album that is at once post-theistic and devoted to a relationship with the divine, each song blinking in and out of “the fragile plane,” a place Krieger describes as “a middle ground in the universe,” both abstract and peaceful, where time, bodies, and names don’t exist.