Aldous Harding, “Designer”, by Stefan Zorn
Do you ever hear songs that just shake you to your core? Why does this happen to us? Is it the lyrics, the music, some memory that they bring up? What makes us continue to seek out new songs that do this to us and not just get stuck on old songs that we know will give us this feeling? And what does that one song do to the rest of the album – which almost invariably are never as great. I know people might have different opinions, but even The Beatles did not write that many “Yesterday”’s. That brings up another interesting point – what makes a song really resonate with you, but might not move others at all?
l was recently listening to Designer by Aldous Harding, which she published in April of last year. I always thought that she was talented, but a bit “out there”. Just watch her Tiny Desk concert (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6ToeaeuOQo) – which is always a great source for new artists, by the way. Clearly talented, but also a bit weird. Her lyrics have always been inscrutable (somewhat by design I think), her outlook a bit dark, but she always had great (albeit subtle) hooks. Then I heard “The Barrel” and I was mesmerized. It is pared down to just the basics, but at the same time there are so many interesting things going on. As usual, the lyrics give absolutely no hint about what she could even possibly been thinking when writing it. What does “It’s already dead; 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 getting led along” mean? I have no idea (especially how the ferret comes into play here) and is apparently the source of quite a bit of debate online. Aldous herself does not give an inch trying to explain her lyrics, which gives us a lot of freedom to come up with our own interpretations. What fascinates me about the song is that every chorus is slightly different. They are subtle changes, but they make the song endlessly interesting. Then I watched the video and knew that this song will always be on my “My Happy Place” playlist (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyZeJr5ppm8). Sample comment on the video: Director: “Do you want the video to be sexy or calming or weird?” Aldous: “Yes!”.
This song really made me listen to the rest of the album very closely. All the songs on here are great and worth a listen. While none can live up to “The Barrel” in my eyes, it is a complete album that is worth hearing from the beginning to the end.