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Aldous Harding - Warm Chris (Album Review)

Monday, 28 March 2022 Written by Tom Morgan

Aldous Harding’s music appears to be constantly unfolding, its eccentricities shifting and surprising in the most delicately unpredictable manner. Her brand of alt-folk/chamber pop initially appears gentle and poised, but just beneath the surface lie intricate workings and alarming contortions.

The New Zealand singer-songwriter clearly delights in cloaking her work in layers of mystique and intrigue. Her lyrics are cryptic, just as her music is mercurial. The tone of ‘Warm Chris’ is rarely obvious or easily discernible, and its songs take the form of emotional puzzle boxes.

A key device in this ambiguity is Harding’s unpredictable voice. She uses it like an instrument, frequently shifting its pitch and timbre.

On Lawn and She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain it’s childlike and Joanna Newsom-esque, while on Tick Tock it descends to a deep, husky lounge croon.

The instrumentals are similarly complex and surprising, whether it’s the minimalist horns atop the closing stretch of Ennui, or the strange squelching effect at the end of Staring At The Henry Moore. 

The arrangements are sparse, and every piano chord or simple drum beat feels precisely placed. Combined with the subtle idiosyncrasies, this precision takes on an almost uncanny quality, collapsing the boundaries of the strange and familiar.

Harding’s lyrics are appropriately off-kilter and enigmatic. Tracks like Fever and Warm Chris appear to feature characters and narratives, while others, such as Staring At The Henry Moore are far more obscure. However, images and ideas do often break through the gauze, poetically hinting towards some pained and troubled emotions.

Harding’s wilful obfuscation will inevitably prove to be a turn-off for some listeners, but for those who can tune into her strange wavelength ‘Warm Chris’ contains great depths of artistry and intrigue.

Aldous Harding Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu April 07 2022 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Mon April 11 2022 - BRISTOL Trinity Centre
Fri September 02 2022 - GLASGOW City Halls
Sun April 16 2023 - BRIGHTON Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Tue April 18 2023 - DUBLIN National Concert Hall
Thu April 20 2023 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Sun April 23 2023 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Mon April 24 2023 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Tue April 25 2023 - CARDIFF Tramshed
Wed April 26 2023 - NORWICH Waterfront
Fri April 28 2023 - LONDON Barbican Hall
Sat April 29 2023 - LONDON Barbican Hall
Wed September 20 2023 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall

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Aldous Harding Details New Album 'Warm Chris', Shares Lead Single Lawn
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