I admit, I am not one of the early admirers of Jenny Hval, in fact, I got into the game only last year, at the behest of my boyfriend who loves quirky female singer/songwriters with high, frail voices, and I was thoroughly impressed with “Apocalypse, girl“, I bought it, even.
Her new album is now and then a lot more courageous when it dares to delves into pop. She previously taunted listeners more with the beginnings of a pop melody, only to destroy it within seconds, a beauty lost to her message (which was – lyrically – often as much in your face as your own nose). However, this time around, there’s a few songs that Jenny allows to grow melodically.
“Female Vampire” as well as “Period Piece” are absolutely endearing because whereas a lot of the other songs are new interpretations of the same old same old of sound experiments, heavy breathing and spoken word with strong 80s feminist notions, these tempestuous pop tunes are like mutations within the rest of the music (just as “Don’t hurt yourself” is a mutation within the sleek pop production of Beyonce’s “Lemonade”).
Truth to be told, I didn’t listen to “Apocalypse, girl” as much as I could have, because the album is quite exhausting. It’s brilliant but it’s exhausting. The same can be said for “Blood Bitch”. Those somehow trodden experimental songs (sound collages, q’uelle surprise) act like a maze you wander through whereas the pop sparks act like those small patches of open space within, a little bench, a pretty hedge with pretty flowers. There you sit and wonder about the intimidating walls, those dark, ugly corners (geez, “The Plague” is as much cliché as it is amazing in its horror movie screams) and these weird noises beyond the hedge.
In this way, “Blood Bitch” is yet again highly impressive in its concept and effect it has on the listener. I might not listen to it that often (again), but it will stick with me and probably more so than “Apocalypse, girl” because it feels like wandering through an art installation and even if you might raise your eyebrow at the lack of subtlety pretty much everywhere, there’s a real art in its execution.