Aldous Harding‘s ethereal shrouds of folk hurt so good. The New Zealand songstress wrings dry her heart in ballads that stretch the imagination into new realms of emotional fortitude. Dark, erotic, pure, and mystical, her musical creations flow unencumbered by genre-confines and expectations. The nine songs of her latest album, Party, form a roadmap of suffering, longing, and resilience that will contort new heartstrings with every listen.
Throughout the Party, Harding uses her voice in an eclectic range of tones and textures to set the mood from track to track and tell each individual story as she heard it in her mind. Displaying to a lover their new life without her in a searing and forceful warble on “Horizon,” she keeps her voice strong and almost intimidating in repetition of the flatly pronounced “babe” and it’s rhyming counterparts. A glowing piano riff and a softly syncopated accent of guitar provide the perfect sea of subtly for Harding’s lower register to glide across on “What If Birds Aren’t Singing They’re Screaming” in a gothic portrait of possibility.
As a whole, the album draws courage from its smallest details. The layering of vocals in harmony, in unison, and especially with Perfume Genius on “Swell Does the Skull” and the slightly startling screams of “Hey!” on “Imagining My Man” forms a new dimension to the desperation of the sweeping melodies. “Party” grows stealthily in an anthemic fashion from an acoustic guitar surrounding Harding’s piercing yowl to tiny percussive ticks, hums of clarinet, and a backbone of piano.
Wonderings from wanderings surrounded by darkness, Party is a charismatic, modern folk album worthy of careful listening. With attention to detail, Aldous ensures that around every grim turn was a sunny and hopeful sonic reward. The fluttering collection of folk is emotive art at its most vulnerable in which every pluck and whisper has a distinctive purpose. Each repetition allows the listener to delve deeper into the fractures of her hypnotic folk.
Favorite Tracks: Horizon, Party, What If Birds Aren’t Singing They’re Screaming