Aldous Harding is the latest female musician from New Zealand to make a big impression on the international scene. Harding hails from the small but charming town of Lyttlelton in the country’s South Island. Her first eponymous album, released in 2014, has been described as “gothic folk.” It is filled with spooky, singular tracks that have the uncanny ability to transport the listener to a different place and time. The location and timeline of her songs is never specific, but it feels far away, desolate, and haunted. The singer appears to take on different characters throughout the progression of the album. Aldous is a pseudonym, Harding’s real name is Hannah. Perhaps the stage name helps her create distance between the song writer and the performer.
Harding has recently released her second album Party. The release coincides with her signing on with 4D records. This album feels like it takes place in contemporary times, perhaps more comfortably reflecting the singer’s experiences. Like in Aldous Harding, her voice is taken through an impressive range, from high, almost screeching, to buttery soft, to a deep growl. Harding has the ability to switch from one to the other in a second, The intense Horizon, the first video release, demonstrates this most vividly with Harding appearing in alternating scenes with her mother, transfixed and hypnotic in the rain, displaying her now famous, amazing ability to transform on stage, consumed by the music, the words, existing in the gaps in the music that we fill in our imaginations.
The last two videos are completely different. Imagining My Man simply tracks Harding’s movements in a cab ride. Beautiful and mysterious, she captures the screen. The song is an honest take on a long-term relationship. Harding’s voice is husky but succinct, languidly contemplating love. Blend features repetitive guitar and soft drums with an oddly confronting whispery Harding. The video is a brilliantly awkward rendition of a cowgirl cheerleader performance from the singer herself. In a way, her syncopating, jarring movements, glimpses of vulnerability, and fake-confident thrusts exemplify what is most special about Harding’s music. At once disconcerting and enchanting, Aldous Harding’s Party should be your next album on repeat.