Future Islands’ elliptical new album “The Far Field” builds on earlier successes through stories of love and loss.
On the track “Actress” by Hand Habits, singer/songwriter Meg Duffy proclaims, “It’s hard to be an actress, but I’ve been trying.” Being a struggling actress can be likened to trying to gain new fans once you’ve signed to a label. But on Hand Habits’ debut, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), released by Woodsist, there’s really no charade: We’re clearly buying what Duffy is selling.
Bedroom projects are often judged on the success of their debut albums, and the multi-instrumentalist known best for Seattle’s Mega Bog has produced an unusually full and well-paced first album of psych-folk and warm indie guitars. The single “All the While” is melancholic romanticizing of the Old West that ends in siren-like twangy guitar and intermittent swells of high-frequency distortion.
Duffy’s unique production style has been influenced by great songwriters: not taking direct cues from them, but rather by knowing what makes them worthy of complete creative control. The album’s personal feeling of desirous brooding is segmented by three sound collages that meander between chapter marker and the fodder of sound design hobbyists. But since nearly everything about the album (down to its cover art) is the epitome of a shimmering bedroom opus, you don’t have to think twice as to why Duffy does everything herself – and easily gets our attention.»