Essential New Music: Hand Habits’ “Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void)”

Idler than it is wild (if a touch over-modest in its humility), Meg Duffy’s warmly intimate debut stakes out her tent in the familiar, fertile pastures of 21st-century dream folk, somewhere in between Real Estate’s crystalline suburban shimmer and Grouper’s hazy somnolence. You could plot out the album’s 13 tracks along that spectrum—the sun-dappled, nonchalantly catchy “Actress” at one end, perhaps; the trio of brief, atmospheric sound-collage interstitials (labeled “scenes”) at the other—but much of its charm comes in the conflation of those two (not particularly distant) poles. It’s not the songs or the sounds that stand out so much as what happens when they all wash together and vibe. So while Duffy’s precise picking and hushed, languorous alto are key players, it’s her living-room production sense—a liberal hand with the reverb, a generous approach to layering parts and sounds—that makes Wildly Idle cozy, sleepy, rainy-day music par excellence.

—K. Ross Hoffman