Aldous Harding - Designer
Critic Score
Based on 23 reviews
2019 Ratings: #37 / 767
Year End Rank: #24
User Score
Based on 492 ratings
2019 Ratings: #80
Liked by 15 people
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The Skinny

Designer is a record entirely in the image of its creator – Harding remains as lyrically oblique as ever, and the idiosyncrasies in her voice remain her calling card.

The Independent

It’s layered with whimsical flutes, intricate guitar picking and sombre bass lines that meander with casual abandon. At an age where the pressure is on to have everything worked out, Harding sounds delightfully free.

God Is in the TV

Designer is an album to be experienced, made to immerse yourself in, not to intellectualise.

Spectrum Culture

Designer is an album of elegant contemplation, of confidence, doubt and longing, and as a result is Harding’s most assured album yet, taking a direct approach to its own arresting strangeness and making room for everyone within its singular and expansive shape.

The Line of Best Fit

Designer could be considered to be the second consecutive modern classic that Harding has released. Designer is disciplined despite its speedy gestation, thoughtful and reserved.


A singular talent, Harding seems to have hit her stride on album number three, and while the darkness of previous efforts is still pervasive, Designer feels like a summer record, though it's probably best suited for dusk.


A breath of fresh air in a time dense with noise and algorithmic hiss, this is an open-hearted deep dive into Aldous Harding’s colourful imagination.

The Guardian

Her lyrics are inscrutable and her vocal and visual stylings eccentric, but Harding’s third album is a thing of beauty.

Rolling Stone

Aldous Harding uses oddness as both lure and armor ... you can hear it in the language of Designer, her quizzically beautiful third LP, where she pivots artfully from folk eccentric to pop eccentric.


The third album from the impressionistic New Zealand singer-songwriter eludes easy classification, which makes her delicately built and beautifully rendered songs all the more alluring.

Under The Radar

It is definitely the voice that is center-stage here, whether she is adopting an aviary croon or a mead-rich sing-speak that gives her a commanding confidence an air of detachment.


Despite what the album’s plain, monochromatic cover art might suggest, this is a warm, textured collection of songs that breathes life at every corner. A real triumph.

The Observer

As previously, the rest of the record repays deep investment, as Harding’s pauses and supporting instrumental actors are often as significant as what’s going on up top, all creating a sense of tensile beauty as certain as physics but impossible to pin down.


‘Designer’ is a striking return, pursuing solitary aesthetic goals in a fashion both unrelenting and admirable.


Harding continues to keep listeners on their toes with Designer which, overall, is a unique, luminous record that's about whatever you need it to be about.

Northern Transmissions

Designer is a heavenly listen that will certainly hold up in years to come, unburdened by the time-stamped pop production that defines so many modern releases.

Loud and Quiet

The ambition of the release is more subdued than its predecessor ... but its move towards a more fulsome sound is married to a newfound ease in her diction.

No Ripcord

There's a marked inconsistency in her voice—something lilting, sometimes guttural—navigating her usual distress with a presence that is as hammy as it is heartfelt.

The 405

Designer finds the New Zealand songwriter in a seemingly more confident, assured and mature place as an artist ... However, the sheen and polish of the arrangements and production have taken something away from the personal connection of Harding's work as a whole.

Weyes Blood. Julia Jacklin. Stella Donnelly. Jessica Pratt. Sharon Van Etten. Now this. There simply has been an astounding amount of releases this year that have blown me away as the female singer-songwriter continues to dominate my listening.

This is a beautifully arranged, constantly pleasant and immaculate release by Harding. Each track comes with purpose, and the vocal delivery is constantly above par and engaging. I've listened to The Barrel all week in preparation for this album to ... read more
9.29.19 Still listen to this regularly. REALLY sad I can't see her on this current tour, the setlists have been sublime so far. This album is a top 10 of the decade type album for me, no doubts.

Only thing I would changed on this album...

Designer should have been the opener followed by Fixture Picture. This is how they have been playing them live, followed by the remainder of the a side.


And just like that, the couple of months worth of waiting come to an end. I hadn't ... read more
We are nothing but a braid in the void, as the album cover indicates. The peculiar condition of our existence cries out for something: a story, a narrative, an explanation. Some clue or idea about what our existence could mean. Aristotle was the first to generalize the question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” My own question has always been the opposite: “Why is there nothing rather than something?” That is, given infinite time and unlimited resources why ... read more
Aldous is arguably one of the most elusive songwriters of this generation, her latest assemblage is a subtle but promising stride forward. Designer’s overall mellow, spatial and vibrant instrumental set up serves as an anchor for the poignant and dreamy lyricism throughout the record’s concise runtime. Ironically, from time to time, driven songwriters never shy away from indulging in minimalism thus forcing listeners to brace for maximal impact, to always expect the unexpected. Her ... read more
Pros: Often the charming and cryptic experience, the sounds are ingrained in this soothing and calming atmosphere with Aldous Harding's acoustic guitars and her transcendental-like vocals creating an overall output of charming cadence but what propels this record eve further is the eccentricity behind it, throughout the delicate and minimally put instruments lies an enigmatic figure who dares not to explain or interpret what she means, it's what gives the record the teetering edge it deserves ... read more
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Added on: February 19, 2019