Los Angeles-based musician Meg Duffy has announced their third album as Hand Habits, Fun House. Set for an Oct. 22 release via Saddle Creek, the 11-track LP is produced by Sasami Ashworth (aka SASAMI) and engineered by Kyle Thomas (King Tuff), and features vocals from Duffy’s friend and collaborator Mike Hadreas (Perfume Genius) on two tracks. The one-shot video (dir. V Haddad) for lead single “Aquamarine” is out now.
“Aquamarine” is an absolute doozy, the kind of song that can break your heart with one hand and piece it back together with the other, fragment by fragment, beat by beat. It’s also unlike anything Hand Habits has ever released: A clattering dance beat and high/low synths create a stark frame around Duffy’s deeply personal vocals, which tell the tale of a drunken father, an estranged mother (“a little bit of her inside / everything I do”) seemingly lost to suicide, and a search for identity: “Who am I? / In the corners of your mind / In the drawers of your mind / Who am I?” Duffy sings as the song’s synths explode like fireworks, with acoustic guitars joining the cathartic chorus. The joyous instrumental and gut-wrenching lyrics each magnify the other’s power, overwhelming your emotions to the point that little details—“A payphone call / Two bloody knees”—land like atom bombs. The cinematic music video, in which Duffy sings and dances in an empty club, only amplifies the bittersweetness of “Aquamarine” further. Duffy changes clothes, as if in search of who they really are, and as the song’s final notes sound, they push open the front door and step into the daylight, free from their soul’s long night.
“What originally started as a minimally arranged acoustic ballad, ‘Aquamarine’ evolved into the story of certain events in life, what informs my identity, the silence in the questions left unanswered that become the shape of understanding who I am. It was my goal to cloak some of the perils of mortality (lyrically) in a musical landscape that didn’t require the listener for a large amount of patience, to bring grief into the metaphorical club,” says Duffy in a statement. “We filmed this video in my aunt’s bar and club in upstate New York, linking the origin and lineage themes in the song with the visuals of changing identities and characters in a space I used to wander as a teen.”
Fun House is the “most ambitious Hand Habits album to date,” per a press release, inspired by Duffy starting therapy—after five years of consistent touring came screeching to a halt with the onset of the pandemic, Duffy “slammed on the brakes and everything psychologically that I’d been pushing down and ignoring for the past few years suddenly flew to the foreground”—as well as by working with Ashworth, who Duffy says “empowered me to take up a lot of different sonic spaces and challenged me to rethink these limitations I had about my own identity.” The resulting record follows the February release of Duffy’s three-track dirt EP, and their 2019 sophomore album placeholder, which Paste ranked among that year’s best.
Hand Habits will play a special, full-band album release show on Oct. 27 at Pico Union in Los Angeles—tickets go on sale this Friday, Aug. 6, at 1 p.m. ET.
Watch the “Aquamarine” video and revisit Duffy’s 2019 Paste session below, and see the details of Fun House further down.
Fun House Tracklist:
01. More Than Love
03. Just to Hear You (feat. Perfume Genius)
04. No Difference
06. False Start
07. Clean Air
08. Concrete & Feathers
09. The Answer
Fun House Album Art: