I like how AllMusic defines the New Zealand’s gothic folk-art pop songstress: “Aldous Harding is an enigma; she’s an elusive but captivating presence who can invoke both a nervous giggle and a slack-jawed tear via her careful pairing of abstract lyrics and subtle hooks.”
Born Hannah Sian Topp, Aldous Harding, as 4AD wrote on her profile, is an artist of rare calibre who does more than sing; she conjures a singular intensity. Her body and face a weapon of theatre, Harding dances with steeled fervor, baring her teeth like a Bunraku puppet’s gnashing grin.
Harding comes from a musical family in Lyttelton, New Zealand; her mother is folk singer Lorina Harding. She was discovered while busking on the street by fellow musician Anika Moa.
Co-produced by Marlon Williams, her 2014 self-titled debut album garnered much critical acclaim, and Harding toured extensively behind the album. Her sophomore album, Party, released in 2017, was nominated for the New Zealand Music Award’s Album of the Year and the IMPALA Award’s European Album of the Year.
The video above is from her live performance at KEXP in Seattle last October. The song, “Designer”, is off her latest album with the same name, produced by frequent PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish. Both Billboard and Rolling Stone named Designer one of the top 50 albums of 2019.
She’ll be at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney, in early March—I’ve just bought the ticket! It’d be my second time seeing her live. The first time was in Singapore at the Laneway Festival in February 2018.
If you’re into Kate Bush x Scott Walker, and a bit of Nico, you’ll love Aldous Harding.
💧 You might also like ALDOUS HARDING: DAMN.
Featured image via Rolling Stone.