New Music 05/2020 – Caribou, Aldous Harding

A vibrant and playful return from one of my favourite electronic artists; a New Zealand folk singer with a penchant for weird.

Caribou – Suddenly

Overall, electronica as a genre is a bit of hit and a lot of miss for me, but I always enjoyed the work of Dan Snaith, a Canadian musician who records under different monikers including Caribou. Other than a gift for killer beats, intricate layering, perfect hooks and catchy melodies, his music has a wonderful warm and human feel, mostly thanks to Snaith’s vocal. It’s fragile, wispy and by no means a great voice in a traditional sense, but it’s distinctive and sweetly imperfect. Suddenly is his first album as Caribou in about five years and it’s another winner, packed with little details that make the songs richer the more you listen to them: a shimmering piano line here, a great old-school soul sample here. I hope it’s not another five years until the next album.

Aldous Harding – Designer

This Kiwi songstress popped on my radar when I stumbled on the bizarre video for her single The Barrel, which shows her do, let’s say, enigmatic dance moves while dressed like this:

If this doesn’t paint a picture of a capital E eccentric, a closer look at the lyrics shows an artist who trades in cryptic and puzzling lines like, I know you have the dove / I’m not getting wet / Looks like a date is set / Show the ferret to the egg / I’m not gettin’ led along. Come again?

If you’re inclined so, you could probably spend hours trying to decipher Harding’s puzzling lyrics and what it all means. I was more interested in the fact that her folky, delicately constructed songs – largely acoustic guitar and piano-based – are quite gorgeous, charming and sophisticated. She’s also an intriguing vocal chameleon, shifting from a honey-sweet and breathy tone in one song to low and husky in the next. At times she even seems to sing with a different accent altogether. It’s always a pleasure to discover a truly idiosyncratic singer-songwriter.

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