Warm Chris by Aldous Harding Album Review by Stephan Boissonneault for Northern Transmissions

4AD

7.5

Aldous Harding

Warm Chris

Perhaps its a form of subconscious jealousy, but I usually detest when an artist throws their voice or changes its cadence between songs for a dramatic effect. It can really turn me off an artist. But while Aldous Harding does shift her vocal cadence between almost every track on her latest full-length album, Warm Chris, it usually comes off as completely genuine and enjoyable.

She really lays into the baroque pop absurdity and vocal acrobatics on a track like “Fever,” which has her choosing to use a nasal tone on the line “when we met at the hotel reception.” It kind of sounds like someone just learning the English language, or trying to sing like the German avant-garde singer-songwriter, Nico. Yet the rhythmic harmony plays well off the piano line, which leads me to believe that Harding knows exactly what she’s doing. She does this style again on the album closer “Leathery Whip,” which features Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods doing an equally weird vocals backing. It’s hypnotic and weird as hell, but really, so is the whole album. In order to really enjoy it you need to embrace the abstraction and overtly weird.

The title track, which the album takes it name, is a calming, light acoustic folk number that is a bit Joanna Newsom, minus the harp. It’s a gorgeous slow burn with staying power. Again, Harding, is flexing her creative vocal tones and really runs with it on a track like “Lawn.” Still, this can be sometimes quite staggering and a bit off-putting like on “Staring at the Henry Moore,” where the mix has her voice louder than any instrument.

Musically, Warm Chris, is quite simple, utilizing subtle lines of saxophone, horns, piano, banjo (only in the track “She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain”) and bright bass. The drums or percussion are pretty sparse and only in the background allowing Hardings’ shifting voice to always at the forefront.

Take “Passion Babe,” which sounds like the inner ramblings of a person dancing around their apartment while barely holding onto a comically large glass of wine. It’s chaotic and Harding’s thrown on, perhaps French accent—its unclear—works with the playfulness of the song.

“Bubbles” is probably the strongest track on Warm Chris. It has the vibe of holding hands with a complete stranger you just met on the road. An idea that seems alien and terrifying giving the day and age. It’s shockingly intimate with the minimal acoustic guitar and piano backdrop acting like a cinematic sonic painting.

Order Warm Chris by Aldous Harding HERE