Single of the week: Hand Habits – Clean Air review

by Jo Higgs

Clean Air is Hand Habits’ final, suitably gorgeous offering, in anticipation of their upcoming third album, Fun House – and the Saddle Creek signee continues to provide loving ditties that wander through acoustic guitar-led states of serenity.

Longing and frustration characterise Meg Duffy’s sombre vocals, as they plead with a lover over their never-quite-resolved conflicts. Sanguine turns of phrase flower out of one another effortlessly – while a variously-levelled rhythmic backbone ties in with close sounding guitar and bass that are as warm as a carefully constructed hearth deep inside a thatched cottage. 

The song has an indescribable finality to it, and it is a tellingly perfect ending to Fun House before we even have the chance to know the project as a whole. Airy backing vocals plump out a suitably skeletal mix – before tasteful strings and some slightly mysterious harmonic fizzles join in to elevate the song to an emotional climax worthy of the most courageous and amorous albums. 

Accompanied by a low-key, but nonetheless engrossing black and white music video, Clean Air’is perhaps the strongest single of a diverse and daring crop.

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