Album: Hand Habits – Fun House review

by Craig Howieson

Emboldened and unburdened, Meg Duffy asserts their own unique voice on Fun House

Perhaps we do not become more confident as we grow older. Maybe, instead, we just begin to care less for the judgements of others, and adopt a greater autonomy over our actions – unconcerned for how we are perceived. It is a shift that allows us to stride forward emboldened to live, or attempt to live, the lives we hope for ourselves. 

Fun House is a bold record. The third full length from singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Meg Duffy, it shakes off any hushed trepidation that may have been evident on its brilliant and beautifully understated predecessor, placeholder. Teaming up with Sasami Ashworth on production duties, it may well be under Ashworth’s influence that Duffy has stepped into their own. 

Duffy has always been renowned for their musical abilities, and, in particular, their guitar playing – evident once again in the blistering outro of opener, More Than Love, that guns for the horizon in the same vein as Lost In The Dream era The War On Drugs. It is little surprise that they have become as well known for those who call up their services (Perfume Genius and Kevin Morby to name just two) as they have in their own right. All that seems set to change now though. 

Everything about Ashworth’s production seems designed to elevate Duffy’s voice. Whether that be on the slightly eerie, but fantastically inviting glam pop of Aquamarine, or the tipsy plonk of Just To Hear (which shares a spirit with Aldous Harding), you are never left in any doubt of whose voice, and whose record, you are hearing.  

And it is not only discovering their unique voice that is revelatory. The way in which Duffy unflinchingly flits between styles also speaks to a newly unburdened outlook. The aforementioned Aquamarine swims in layers of synths, glitchy bass hooks and mechanised drums and is as close to a big pop moment they have ever had. Meanwhile, Graves relies on little more than Duffy’s voice and plucked guitar to tell its folky tale of letting the past lie.

Duffy has not so much loosened the reins, but kicked down the stable door with this record. Fun House finds them unclenching a fist to offer a hand to hold for the listener. One that will help guide them into a future of their choosing, and burdened less by the thoughts of others. 

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