Aldous Harding – Warm Chris

Aldous Harding's many voices and personas are in full effect on Warm Chris, but what she says isn’t as important as how she wants you to feel

Album Review by Tony Inglis | 21 Mar 2022
  • Aldous Harding – Warm Chris
Album title: Warm Chris
Artist: Aldous Harding
Label: 4AD
Release date: 25 Mar

On Warm Chris, Aldous Harding can sound like Nico, Joni, Karen Dalton, Caleb Followill and a cartoon that wants to murder you. Voices, characters, divergent personas – they are all inhabited by Harding in her committed pursuit of throwing you off. What she actually means isn’t as important as how she wants you to feel.

Her lyrics can read as disaffectedly as those of Dry Cleaning’s Florence Shaw, or as wry and modern as a Hera Lindsay Bird poem, but delivered backmasked (Ennui) or pitched up (Lawn), the words become untethered from time. Here, they're often backed by warm 60s sounding analogues, as she slinks in and out of something new and different. You can’t pin her down.

From New Zealand but aptly based in Wales (where she also recorded this album) she works in the same lane as Cate Le Bon, creating Cool Cymru-adjacent post-modern pop songs that defy easy analysis. Her imagery is off-kilter, sung in nursery rhyme-like melodies (like when she subverts the traditional children’s folk song She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain). The concept of life coming at you like a BDSM item on closer Leathery Whip, voices fluctuating in frequency, can be sort of sexy, pretty funny and deeply scary all at once. Ultimately, like the Henry Moore sculptures she mentions near the album’s end, Harding’s songs can be as mundanely lifelike from afar as they are strangely alien up close.

Listen to: Fever, Passion Babe, Leathery Whip