Aldous Harding: Designer (4AD) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, November 15th, 2019  

Aldous Harding

Designer

4AD

Apr 26, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


You can almost imagine Aldous Harding's face contorting into paralytic awe or into an expression of statuesque severity when you hear her move guilelessly through her register. Interesting then that in the two videos ("The Barrel" and "Fixture Picture") debuted before her new album Designer, the reveal of the face is postponed or in some ways subverted. Aldous Harding is not a particularly candid songwriter. She is more likely to omit the personal details of her memories, instead opting to evoke an aura of what it feels like to be subsumed by remembrance. This does not mean that she does not wish to reveal anything of herself or that she is needlessly obscurantist though. Harding's face is a face that you can see easily, but looking at it will not remove the awareness that she is adopting an expression, an approach that has its resonances in her lyrical approach. While her lyrics are cryptic, highly organized, surreally inflectedbut with too much internal coherence to be a product of free-associationthey penetrate to reveal a much deeper self than any attempt to be confessional could. In some ways she is inviting you to see beyond the face, something only possible by moving tangentially to her personal effects, like a knight's move in chess, the only piece that breaks from linearity. 

Many of the tracks on Designer have a surprisingly buoyant tone to them, but that buoyancy is always impersonal, like a surreal and otherworldly urge to smile at either nothing in particular, or at a force deeper than normal linguistic recognition allows. Gentle finger-picked guitars, little embroidered flourishes of piano in the corners, and warm undergirding string arrangements help to fill out the often stark space of the tracks that emphasize the voice and the delicacy of the dynamic shifts. It is definitely the voice that is center-stage here, whether she is adopting an aviary croon or a mead-rich sing-speak that gives her a commanding confidence an air of detachment. The magic of her work is how she becomes more human by recognizing the alien lurking in our loves and lives. (www.aldousharding.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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