Aldous Harding: Warm Chris review – endearingly introspective folk-pop

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Over the course of three albums since her 2014 self-titled debut, New Zealand singer-songwriter Aldous Harding has found a musical identity in sonic shapeshifting. Harnessing her voice like a ventriloquist’s puppet, Harding’s releases have traversed everything from pensive, finger-picking folk on 2019’s The Barrel to gothic piano balladry on 2017’s Imagining My Man and wistful spoken word on 2014’s Beast.

Related: The strange world of Aldous Harding: ‘I’ve always been driven by fear’

Her latest, Warm Chris, is perhaps her most genre-focused work – 10 tracks of mid-tempo, folk-adjacent introspection – allowing for greater attention towards her musicality. Opener Ennui expertly pairs a tripping major chord progression on the piano with Harding’s languorous vocals, expressing the restless boredom of its title. Singles Fever and Lawn, meanwhile, fit into poppier territory, with the former’s earworming chorus and the latter’s hip-swaying rhythm.

Focus doesn’t belie experimentalism, though. Lawn features Harding singing in what sounds like a helium-induced pitch, while Passion Babe takes on a nonchalant, valley-girl drawl. Closer Leathery Whip features the eerie, surrealist refrain: “here comes life with his leathery whip”. Clearly Harding is still having fun, and while it can make for a somewhat jarring listening experience, her playfulness adds depth to this charming record.

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