Warm Chris (4AD/Remote Control)
IT WAS WHILE WATCHING a grab online of a dude – and he was, totally, a dude – from the TV show, Euphoria, being interviewed on some red carpet that Warm Chris finally began to make sense to me. Or, was it that I began to make more sense about Warm Chris?
Anyway, this dude, dressed to the nines and allowed out in daylight, was so stoned out of his gourd that it was a wonder his eyes could stay open and his legs could stay upright. But he valiantly attempted to answer the innocuous questions being put to him, with all the “if I talk slowly, no one will notice I’ve smashed 37 cones in the limo” certainty he could muster. The further it went on, the less grip he had on temporal reality; the more he answered, the less reality mattered to us.
Has it all been emotional for you?, he was asked. “Yeah,” he drawled, looking both confused and committed. How? Tell me, said the interviewer. “No thank you.” Damn straight: dude was in his zone, and we were merely visiting.
Ah, no, I know what it is: it’s fairer to say that’s when I realised I was making a mistake in trying to make my own sense of the new Aldous Harding.
Yes, you can feel that Warm Chris has intimations of disappointment, whether in the narrator or those around her, as when she sings “Love is the name of the game/You made such a mountain/She won’t be coming round/Staring at the Henry Moore”, or frustration in “You should stay but you don’t/I should go but of course I won’t”. It would be possible to hear lines such as “Doors are the way you leave/Just be the way you are” or “Try for any one note/Cover me in sugar and be natural/I need the liberty”, and think about questions of individuality.
Except each time you think you’ve got a theme, the song slips away from your grasp, and not because it is empty of meaning but because the opacity of the song says, no thank you, to your impositions. It makes more sense then, to let this somewhat psychedelic folk, this bent pop, take you where it wants.
That may be to have you positioned in Passion Babe between the sea and the mountains: the rhythm bobbing, the voice climbing into the clouds, your balance never entirely certain. It may set the mood of a polite-but-sombre-underneath letter being read in Ken Burns’ The Civil War in the bare Bubbles, or give way immediately to the children-on-acid-in-the-forest trip of Leathery Whip.
You may feel like Blossom Dearie and Lou Reed are duetting in Tick Tock, some to-and-fro between optimism and scepticism leaning her way slightly, just as some back-and-forth between subdued Velvets rock and Stereolab light electronics ends up more on the European than American side. Or maybe you’ll airily dance along the bassline of Lawn before throwing caution, and your arms, to the wind as the dirtier guitar plays you out of the song.
In any case, even newcomers to the world of Aldous Harding will realise she knows what she is doing, and just accept that we are coming too. As my red carpet dude said, “I was kinda tripping on my own. Yeah. That’s wild.”