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Aldous Harding ‎– Designer (4AD)

27 June 2019

This long-player is out a few weeks, but it’s importance in the scheme of the current climate makes it an offering that cannot be overlooked. Already it is a forerunner for one of this year’s most captivating releases. The girl from New Zealand, Aldous Harding, has struck artistic gold with Designer. Following up 2017’s acclaimed Party, this time Aldous appears more confident, and settled in her craft, nailing every phrase with her memorable, uplifting prose.

In reality Aldous Harding is hard to explain, which immediately causes interest. Same as trying to find the influences meshed within her psychedelic, folk style. The best case scenario that describes Aldous is faithfully blending Laura Nyro with Kate Bush, though with her personal avant-garde imagery wrapped in integrity and melodic joy.

The approach to the recording is stripped back to an organic minimalism, which is multi-layered to create the sound on Designer. Those bittersweet, gentle tones of Harding glide seamlessly over the piano and guitar signatures, erupting to transcendent bliss during choruses. Whilst the subject matter of the lyrics may be hard to comprehend, perhaps containing trivia of a personal nature to the songstress. The fact is those obscure phrases and lines create a unique, infectious quality that very few would pull off with such direct wonderment. In the same breath reminding us how life as a subject is confusing, so reflective emotions narrated with intricacies such as these should not be simply overlooked.

Designer opens with the video release “Fixture Picture”, a melodic movement, setting themes and tones perfectly for what’s to come. At times Designer has a distinctive feel of the recently deceased troubadour Scott Walker. A point that forms from the use of the acoustic instruments combining to create walls of lush sound. The surrealistic soul continues into the title track “Designer”, acoustic patterns flourish to open, with a draw of breath the track moves up a notch, and the vocals are to the very front.

“Zoo Eyes”, a more straightforward dive into the heartbreak zone, rich with folk strings and woodwind instruments. “Treasure” holds some of the best of those melodies that reflectivity tug at the senses. The first slice from Designer, the single “The Barrel”, on the surface may appear confusing as Aldous gives her views on love and loss all the while the positivity within the track brings a sense of joy from the death of a relationship. Pointing to new beginnings, and it is that view of the world that makes this lady stand out.

“Damn” the time-heaviest of the set, clocks in slightly over the six-minute mark, starts with a piano figure. Here Harding’s voice is deeper, more pronounced, reminiscent of Nico as a full on chanteuse enters the album’s equation.
“Weight Of The Planets”, seven tracks in finds electricity pumping through it. Backed by the sudden intrusion of strings, the lyrics are phenomenal as Harding’s talent oozes from the center of the world she’s created. “Heaven Is Empty” brings listeners back again into her folk roots, short and to the point.

The closer, “Pilot”, again displays the deep vocal gymnastics that Harding executes with such grace and conviction. Simply constructed but deadly in how it captivates with every word that she can summon. Designer is escapism for the listener, a gateway to a more beautiful existence, to be blunt in a world of hyped, though forgettable pop, be an Aldous Harding.

1.Fixture Picture
3.Zoo Eyes
5.The Barrel
7.Weight Of The Planets
8.Heaven Is Empty


The Barrel;

Picture Fixture;