The human voice can be an overlooked tool in an artist’s arsenal, but Aldous Harding has the right idea. On her fourth album, the eccentric New Zealand singer-songwriter puts her pipes at the foreground of an evocative, alt-folk soundscape that could only be hers. On ‘Tick Tock’, she slips from dulcet lows to lofty harmonies with ease while a crisp beat rattles beneath. On the intimate title track, she sounds almost childlike, so soft and close to the ear it feels as though she could slip inside and curl up, if she wanted. Simply by singing in such a variety of styles, she adds depth to the often sparse arrangements, and creates a world within an album populated by different characters. Aldous has developed her unearthly persona across her previous records; 2019’s ‘Designer’ added wiry guitar and shuffling percussion to the melancholy sound she finessed on ‘Party’ two years earlier. Where ‘Designer’ had shade, ‘Warm Chris’ offers light. It still feels bizarre, like stepping inside a doll’s house or a hall of mirrors, but it’s less garish, and ushers back in some of the vulnerability of ‘Party’. ‘She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain’ exemplifies this; “Living for the things I love / Killing the ones that love me”, she sings, over lone piano, her lyrics purposefully obscure, rewarding repeat listens. Aldous Harding is as much a great musician as she is an illusionist who dazzles the listener with stylish tricks. But when she takes off the costumes and harlequin make-up, there’s a devastatingly honest songwriter underneath.
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