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Hand Habits' stellar second album 'placeholder' knows when to run and retreat

Meg Duffy really hones into the project's sound on the album.

On Hand Habits’ second album, we hear Meg Duffy honing in on their project’s sound, embracing a new level of assertiveness that mixes in fluidly with the flowing emotion of the record. 

Built through intricate layers of instrumentation, placeholder somehow manages to feel subtle and grandiose at the same time. With a humble rhythm section as a backdrop, acoustic and electric guitars meld together with swelling pianos to create soundscapes that bloom open, while Duffy’s voice is up close and personal, making each yearning vocal feel overwhelmingly intimate.

Sprawling guitars on the title track create this mood, and it refuses to disappear. It carries on from the driving groove and expansive chords of ‘can’t calm down’, to the poignantly tender ‘yr heart [reprise]’, through to the closing moments of ‘the book on how to change part II’, when the hazy psychedelia bursts into a glorious saxophone finale.

It’s in these blurry moments that placeholder succeeds most. It somehow manages to feel unenthused yet exhaustingly emotional, making it an immensely compelling album, with each moment more striking than the last. 

8.0

By James Lynch