Aldous Harding's world is beginning to open. The New Zealand folk singer has this year signed a record deal with 4AD, the international indie label that brought Grimes and Future Islands to the world stage. She just released her newest album Party, and is in the midst of an international tour that sees her playing across multiple continents right through to November. This week, she performed alongside Lorde on BBC's major music programme Later... With Jools Holland - thought to be the first time two Kiwi musicians have performed on a major late-night television programme independently to each other.

Although it feels like Harding is poised for a major breakthrough, she addresses her new heights with a sense of calm practicality.

"I'm very happy doing what I'm doing, and all of the stuff that's coming with it. Some of it I enjoy some I don't, but I understand that it's all part of it, so I just do it," she says.

"I enjoy what I can and try to enjoy what I normally wouldn't, to stay excited and interested in something that I love."


Harding's demanding tour diary means the album release has been largely out of sight, with her focus shifted towards upcoming shows - but she says it's "wonderful" to finally have it out in the world.

"I wrote the first song for Party two and a half years ago, and we recorded eight months ago," she says. "Some albums take ten years, some take two days, so I don't really feel like I can comment on the length of the road - just that it was pleasant and I wasn't alone."

Party's nine minimal songs trawl across a broad emotional terrain that's at once expansive and restrained. Produced with long-time PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish and featuring a beautifully subtle appearance from Perfume Genius, the record manages to be startling with its careful, hypnotic tread. Harding's voice is chameleonic as it moves through a range of sensations; she's ethereal and nimble (Blend), victoriously shrill (Party) or bold, defiant, challenging (Horizon).

The title track holds one of the album's most striking moments, when a women's choir rises up to join Harding as she cries; "I was as happy as I will ever be". It's an earth-shattering moment that represents the growth of Harding as an artist, who says this album is "triumphant"; born out of a more confident and self-assured headspace than her debut.

"I think it's a lot freer than the last record," she says. "It felt a lot more natural. I'm a lot happier, and I was a lot happier making this one."

As for how the new record relates to the last, she says the new one is "close, squeezing her hand."

Released last Friday, Party is winning favour the world over. The Guardian has praised Harding's "extraordinarily dextrous" voice; NPR calls it a "dark document of ambition and growth and heartbreak", and DIY Mag says Harding is "truly captivating". It's deserved praise that carves Harding a space among the likes of Nadia Reid and Fazerdaze as Kiwi alternative artists of whom the world is beginning to take notice.

It's a party that was waiting for Aldous Harding, and now, she's arrived.