This review has been one of the more difficult ones I have ever sat down to write. Not because I did not enjoy the album, far from it, Aldous Harding's fourth offering is a captivating body of work, leaving one a little lost for words or at best unsure what words deserve to be used in association.
Harding said she doesn't like to detail any meaning of her songs in a recent interview, "I just want everyone to feel like a philosopher. You put on a record, and that record belongs to you for that 40 minutes." So with her permission, allow me to give you my two cents.
The word eccentric has often been associated with Harding as an artist. Warm Chris shows the artist fully owning this comfortably in her authentic art. The album has an effortful flow despite more varying instruments and styles than I dare attempt to count; it runs, just like Harding herself describes making the album easy. (Her easiest to date, in fact.)
'Ennui' is a perfect opener, almost a theme tune like welcoming you to Warm Chris. Supported by the lively organs, reminiscent of 1950s acts like The Dovers. This, perhaps unique interpretation (but remember, this is what Harding wants) for me is seen again in 'Fever', a folk take on an old school soul track. Edgy keys and seductive brass. Similarly edgy and seductive is album closer 'Leathery Whip', which sounds like it could have been a The Velvet Underground song.
Harding's vocal range is unmatched once again on this release; if you told me she was four (or fourteen) different people, I would not question it. 'Tick Tock' is the ultimate example of this; it could be mistaken for a duet. Fittingly she likes to consider herself more of a song actor than a musician. All resting on a rhythm that is enticing your hips to move, a common element on most of the tracks on the record, especially on lead single 'Lawn', which kicked off the album rollout last January and clearly set the tone for the record.
Title track 'Warm Chris' is one of the purest moments of the album, just under four minutes of clean folk, one of the songs most evocative of 2014's self-titled debut. Similarly seen in 'She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain', touching on country in vocals while musically reminding one of Cat Power, it is the most sombre moment of the album. And while talking about pureness, it would be criminal to not also mention 'Staring at The Henry Moore', which is also held together with a sweet Bossa Nova rhythm, the record once more whispering for your hips to sway with it.
'Passion Babe' owns my greatest fondness from the album, though, an earworm with the additive lyrics "Passion must play, or passion won't stay" and once more another endless display of vocal capabilities. And when I think of the record as a whole, I think the word fondness might be the perfect word for Warm Chris. No matter what your musical preference is, the sweet charm of these songs and the record has the power to leave anyone with a genuine fondness for it, and I have absolutely no difficulty in saying that.