Designer
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Designer

Aldous Harding

Aldous Harding will release her third album, Designer!


Designer follows 4ad-debut Party, which was praised by The New York Times as “quiet, cryptic, utterly arresting…[and] riveting.” NPR said Harding is “haunting” while Rolling Stone likened her to “Nico in a private karaoke room singing Jewel until closing.”

The album garnered a performance on Later….With Jools Holland and gained a fan in Lorde who said “Aldous Harding is the most interesting musician around.”

Designer finds the New Zealander hitting her creative stride. After Party, Harding came off a 100-date tour last summer and went straight into the studio with a collection of songs written on the road. Reuniting with John Parish, producer of Party, Harding spent 15 days recording and 10 days mixing at Rockfield Studios, Monmouth and Bristol’s J&J Studio and Playpen.

From the bold strokes of opening track ‘Fixture Picture’, there is an overriding sense of an enigmatic artist confident in their work, with contributions from Huw Evans (H. Hawkline), Stephen Black (Sweet Baboo), drummer Gwion Llewelyn and violinist Clare Mactaggart broadening and complimenting Harding’s rich and timeless songwriting.

Review

New Zealand’s Aldous Harding has quickly become one of my go-to singer–songwriters. Her previous album, 2017’s Party, was my album of the year. *Designer *is her third album, and her second with the always cool UK label 4AD, who were pretty sharp to pick up this extraordinary talent and have always had a keen eye on up-and-coming artists. Both of Harding’s albums for 4AD have been produced by John Parish, who is best known for his work with P.J. Harvey¥– another great and difficult-to-pigeon-hole artist.

At times Aldous Harding comes across as a modern-day Nico with a big, deep baritone vocal, yet on the next song her voice transforms into a whispery kind of Vashti Bunyan impersonation. Harding’s vocal range and delivery sets her apart from her contemporaries. Her songs are cryptic, melodramatic and utterly compelling. The first single on Designer, ‘The Barrel’, features a wacky video which looks like it’s been made by David Lynch. It is a great introduction to the album as Harding draws us in to her off-kilter world view.

If you’re a fan of contemporary artists such as Laura Marling, Joanna Newsom, Nadia Reid or The Weather Station, you should definitely check this out.


Dave Clarke is the music and DVD manager at Readings.

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