Hand Habits

Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void)

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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson

Known in certain circles for backing indie singer/songwriters Kevin Morby and Mega Bog (Erin Birgy) on tour, guitarist Meg Duffy steps into the spotlight all on her own with Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), her full-length debut as Hand Habits. A true bedroom project -- or living room project, to be literal -- the album was written, performed, recorded, and produced by Duffy. The intimate set takes listeners behind closed doors with lyrics that refer to bathroom sinks and late-night invites. Frequent double-tracking makes Duffy's melodic but conversational vocal style seem even more lost in thought past bedtime. Meanwhile, her floaty, psych-tinged guitar pop swirls into corners and wraps back around headphones. Tempos are ambling on tracks such as "Flower Glass" ("When I hold you like a flower/Hold you like an hourglass"), a melancholy reflection that, even without the suggestion of the title, sounds like a musical representation of stained glass. Sustained chords, mixed low, provide the glue for layered harmonic guitars that unroll one note at a time in irregular rhythms. Later, the whispered count-off to "Sun Beholds Me" leaves ample time to anticipate the next beat. Even a relatively brighter, brisker tune like "Nite Life" has the leisurely twang of slide guitar, spacy effects, and airy vocals. Three brief "scenes" are spread throughout the track list: "Great LA," "Cowboy," and "Time Hole." Incorporating samples, each one is an atmospheric exercise in texture that relinquishes form, only reinforcing the dreamy, drifting feel of the album. Rather than becoming tiresome with 13 languid tracks and a 50-minute playing time, Wildly Idle's lure persists by revealing depth with repeat listens.

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