Jenny Hval – Apocalypse, girl

What is immediately striking about Jenny Hval’s third studio album Apocalypse, girl is the Norwegian’s fearlessness in exploiting speech and melody to convey her highly individual worldview. As a credited lyricist, writer and singer all rolled into one, her work demonstrates an artistic, experimental quality that incorporates familiar influences yet stretches out far beyond them.

Following on from Innocence Is Kinky, her previous effort under her own name (and the fourth record of her music career), Hval re-establishes a canvas for jazz-like exploration that features challenging new elements. The outcome is a record that is contrastingly provocative whilst pulling the listener in close to hear her musings. Hval’s fascinating use of language placed over consciously roomy percussion and barely-there synth makes for a reflective journey, a mirror held up to the human condition from which its complexity shines straight back.

Highlights include the cool eroticism of spoken-word opener ‘Kingsize’, Hval’s probing of the very shapes and forms of vocabulary a fine tone-setter for an album that is at times playful, others intense, and always confident. The abstract ‘That Battle is Over’ swims around a baggy beat through whose gaps Hval is free to twist and turn. ‘White Underground’ projects a strange, angelic-alien atmosphere with whispering vocals set against an eerie backdrop, resulting in a piece that has an almost hallucinatory air. This gives way to the brooding, lounge-inflected ‘Heaven’, as spacious as its title intimates but never lacking in edge.

Hval’s poeticism and depiction of hyper-awareness, particularly in tracks such as ‘Sabbath, serve as an effective commentary on our place in the modern world and what its meaning might be, drawing together a life from fragments of understanding. There is a theme here of searching but not expecting to find absolutes, and a desire to escape into pure, all-consuming expression. Undoubtedly broad and avant-garde, Apocalypse, girl nevertheless represents the intimate, soulful outpouring of a creative mind that excels when it comes to communicating sensual experience.

Release Date 08/06/2015 (Sacred Bones)

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David Stedman

David Stedman has followed the Manchester music scene with keen interest since arriving in the city over ten years ago. A Shropshire native, he has a particular fondness for smaller live venues. He is never happier than when listening to acts that make use of a guitar or keyboard in some way.