Two years ago, the New Zealand singer-songwriter who’s probably the most recent heavyweight to come out of her homeland’s storied Flying Nun scene, released her album Party. It was a dense, vivid album that found bent new things to do with the old folk-schooled singer-songwriter format. Perfume Genius mastermind Mike Hadreas guested on the album, and PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish produced it. It wasn’t Harding’s first album, but it was the one that effectively introduced her to the world. And now she’s announced plans to follow it up with a new one called Designer.
As The FADER reports, Harding will release Designer this spring. Once again, Parish produced the album; Harding recorded it with him in Bristol. If first single “The Barrel” is any indication, the album will find similarly bugged-out and oblique approaches to what Harding was already doing on Party. “The Barrel” is a pretty song, with acoustic guitars and strings, but it also has a creeping sense of unease working for it, and that sense gets magnified a whole lot once you watch the video.
Harding co-directed her video for “The Barrel” with Martin Sagadin. She’s the only person who appears onscreen the whole time. It all takes place in a sheet-draped room, while Harding does a creeped-out Lynchian song-and-dance routine and dresses like, I guess, a glammed-out Pilgrim? I don’t know what else you’d call it. That outfit includes enormous Ziggy Stardust platform boots and a hat that’s about four feet tall and looks like a condom. And, as the plot twist reveals, there’s a very good reason for that hat to be there. Below, watch the video and check out the album’s tracklist.
01 “Fixture Picture”
03 “Zoo Eyes”
05 “The Barrel”
07 “Weight Of The Planets”
08 “Heaven Is Empty”
Designer is out 4/26 on 4AD.