Although the approach of this new opus is rather similar to what we know of her, notably by her angelic voice and her universe as calm as sentimental, Warm Chris has its own secrets and particularities. First of all, the latter sounds more pop - a new string to her bow. This was all necessary in order to compete with her fantastic previous albums Party (2017) and Designer (2019), making the achievement of this work even more remarkable.
"Of all the ways to eat a cake, this one surely takes the knife," is the second line of the wonderfully loopy song "Passion Babe," off of Aldous Harding's adventurous fourth album, Warm Chris. A line that is as inscrutable as it is incisive, and one you can take literally or figuratively. "Passion Babe" is every bit as catchy as Designer's "The Barrel," as piano, guitar and drums bound and rebound at seemingly cross purposes.
The New Zealander’s latest is beautiful on the surface, yet becomes even more wonderful when given a chance, staking its claim as the first great album of the coming summer Aldous Harding – the nom-de-music of New Zealand's Hannah Harding – has generated quite the reputation as one of the world's finest purveyors of pungent, vetiver-scented oddball folk. It's lush at times, and scary at others, but generally it's a fine blend of the two. Sharp and artistic, it maintains an aura of the inaccessible while being ultimately rather pleasant and agreeable.
New Zealand's Aldous Harding is a master of negative space. Her prowess is quiet: she weaves intimate walls in hushed proclamations, pauses, and sighs. Brief silences and muted splatters of percussion amplify the rich emotional crescendos of her songs, which often read like surrealistic diary entries, and at other times like letters written in dreams.
With her fourth LP, Warm Chris, Aldous Harding goes by the principle that any idea, no matter how simple, can turn into something more. Whatever meaning you ascribe to your art becomes secondary to the process of creating itself, and the joy of building something tangible and resonant is its very reward. Harding has a reputation for making music that sounds inscrutable upon first listen—hiding behind her own experiences—to the extent that it's easy to forget that her music can also be sublime and soul-enriching.
Aldous Harding has always been an artist ready to disregard the constraints of any genre. In just eight quick years and three acclaimed albums, her work has flirted with jazz, folk and chamber pop, but rather than any specific music styles, it's her wit, candour, and the ease with which she moves in and out of a multiplicity styles that really confirms her stand-out talent. On 'Warm Chris', the New Zealander's fourth album, Harding reiterates her class, with an album of unassuming yet firmly assured excellence.
Aldous Harding has a knack for investing her music with distinctive personality; discerning exactly which personality she's projecting at any given time is another matter. On her fourth album, the wonderfully titled Warm Chris, Harding seems to switch personality on almost every song, modulating her vocal performance to suit the music's playful sway, perpetually nudging the listener off guard. Is she joking? Is she serious? Even during the course of a single song it's probably both, and it's delicious to be toyed with in this way.