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Aldous Harding Designer

Designer
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The worst shift is the late evening shift. You squeeze into an overcrowded tram, disappearing in an ocean of humans, with only cheap headphones to shield you during the humid commute. The tram's hum, occasionally broken by flange squeals, soothes you.

With enough will power, you can drown it all in fine music. Designer, the third album by Aldous Harding, hovers above the stressful faces, a refreshing gust of wind that clears out the damp atmosphere inside the carriage.

captures the lesser celebrated emotions

Hannah Harding's vocals mesmerise through the half folk, half chamber pop affair. Slow, relaxing moods are found in the glitzy 'Fixture Picture', a smooth opening track that hypothesises that "you can't be pure and in love." You find solace in the folksy demeanour of 'Treasure', a minimalist elope through overcast-lit evergreens and fields.

The glossier musical arrangements in Designer are not too far from Aldous Harding's previous albums. You never feel a loss of intimacy, with the baroque sensitivity of 'Zoo Eyes' feeling perfectly at home when juxtaposed with the solemnity of 'Damn', the album's emotional climax.

Like the daily commute, Designer is not a happy journey. 'Heaven Is Empty' is an avalanche of crushing defeat, of dreams evanescing as life slips through your bruised hands. The mood is a downer, but that's why Designer is beautiful; it captures the lesser celebrated emotions, the ones we don't dance about, but dream to as the hum of the tram guides us through the night.

Sam J. Valdés López

Next article in issue 133

Gretchen Peters Southern Fried Storytelling

Ahead of the aptly-named Strings Attached tour, which stops in Sheffield this month, we spoke to Gretchen about the past, present and future accomplishments spanning her twelve-album career.