Jenny Hval isn’t one to mince her words. On her latest album ‘Apocalypse Girl’, her third solo album since 2011, Hval’s frankness about sexuality, desire and sex’s role in society is nothing short of reactionary.
On ‘Apocalypse Girl’ Hval has managed to create beautifully melodic and luxurious soundscapes, but contrasting them with vocals that range from straight up spoken word poetry to the lurid callings of sirens from distant shores. Musically it’s more of the same. Thanks to members of Jaga Jazzist and Swans joining the fold, the music created runs the gambit of pop, junkyard orchestra, abstract guitars, faux classical strings and that full blown Scandinavian electro pop that infects your head and makes everything else fade into the ether.
It’s the lyrics on ‘Apocalypse Girl’ that are the real stars. Two tracks in and Hval delivers this “In a restless half dream, I grab my cunt with my hand that isn’t clean, I imagine you’re doing the same, holding on to your soft dick, We don’t have to fuck, Can we just lie here being”. I can’t remember the last time I heard lyrics this honest and revealing. As Hval said recently “The reason it comes across as provocative is because it’s the surprise of it existing in a realm that is melodic and not necessarily loud or aggressive. That’s something that’s interesting to me: to take these words that are very taboo, or maybe discriminatory, and put them into a very soft setting, where they’re not about objectification. So, it’s not about ‘I’m watching you and your private parts’, it’s more the ordinary, everyday sexuality, which is pretty much in everything we do.”
This is the crux of the album. Hval isn’t trying to offend, or upset, she’s just trying to show us ourselves in a different light. If these lyrics had appeared I a punk, hip-hop or metal track the power of the words would be slightly lost behind a wall of aggression and stereotypes, but put this very personal words in the context of a pop setting and you have something truly remarkable.
What Hval has done on ‘Apocalypse Girl’ is channel the spirits of Kate Bush, Björk, Patti Smith and Donita Sparks, to name a few, and cherry pick elements that make each of them stand out in their own right, but not making it confrontational by wrapping these hard topics in a soft and poppy setting.
‘Apocalypse Girl’ is out now on Sacred Bones Records
You can see ‘Jenny Hval’ live at one of the following venues…
June 10 – London @ Royal Festival Hall w/ Perfume Genius TICKETS