Review

Aldous Harding

Warm Chris

4AD • 2022

If muddle-headedness passes for a unique selling point, you’d be well advised to be Aldous Harding to convey it. Thanks to the mystery that surrounds the New Zealander and her enigma-folk, the rapture her fans show between releases never seems to diminish. With »Warm Chris«, her fourth album, we now have more material to try and fathom this mystery. Its contributors include John Parish (again as producer), drum chameleon Seb Rochford and Sleaford Mods frontman Jason Williamson. What appears irritating at first makes sense. Harding’s music has always been too rebellious to be placed in any art-pop pigeonhole, no matter how wide. The ten songs on the album are vivid and tangible with laid-back percussion, plucked guitar, airy piano accompaniment and brass interludes. Quite different from the lyrics. But Aldous Harding recites her lyrical riddles so naturally in mannered idioms and different timbres that listening to them is like solving rebuses: even without having any idea about what they could mean, you still sense that there’s a lot behind them. Perhaps because no one combines muddle-headedness with elegance in such a logical and tender-sounding way as Aldous Harding. Here, the tragicomic doesn’t need slapstick to sound courageous. And because there is too much acumen underlying the lyrics and compositions for them to be anything but defiant in the end. The rapture will remain.