Original photo by Emma Wallbanks.
Aldous Harding is back following the success of her 2019 album Designer. On her fourth album, Warm Chris, her sound has matured, yet it envelopes a childlike sense throughout; as playful and whimsical as ever. Daring to be imperfect, the various instruments tinker, plod and hum. Her vocal flexibility is endless throughout the record; conjuring a different character with every song, playing hide-and-seek with the timbre.
Aldous Harding has managed to enchant listeners from all over the world ever since her debut self-titled release. Something about her mystique, both on and off stage, is rather intriguing. It is no wonder that ears would prick up at the mention of a new album, produced by John Parish (PJ Harvey, Eels, Tracy Chapman). We were teased with two singles; the mischievous ‘Lawn’ paired with its wonderful Twiggy-reptilian-esque music video, as well as the sybaritic ‘Fever’. They were mere glimpses into the sounds that Harding would share with us. What followed was a perpetual shedding of skin to reveal new vocal colours with every song. On Warm Chris, Aldous Harding is showing us that she is a vocal contortionist - and not in the way of acrobatics.
From the initial sound of the first chord in ‘Ennui’, there is a sense of playfulness, a childlike nature to the music that immediately emits joy and the curiosity to continue listening. Perhaps this alludes to the overall purity of the music. There is nothing fluffy about it, nothing too complex; it is stark, not bathed in effects, and there is something incredibly striking about the bareness of the instruments. It is as if we are sitting in a small room watching her sing with her band. The effect of this intimate simplicity is not unlike that of composers such as Satie or Philip Glass. Like them, Aldous Harding makes it look effortless. However, it is difficult to create this balance, to allow enough space for the music to grow and develop in our ears exponentially.
Whether it is the haunting hollowness of ‘She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain’, the tenacious determination of ‘Leathery Whip’ or the wooing title ballad ‘Warm Chris’, Aldous Harding beguiles us with her fluid, never-tiring transformations. She continues to prove herself as a genius in songwriting; showing transparency, yet casting enough of a shadow to keep our imagination alight.
Favourite tracks: Ennui, Warm Chris, She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain, Leathery Whip.
Warm Chris is out on Friday the 25th of March, 2022.
She’s Be Coming Round The Mountain
Staring At The Henry Moore