Release Date: Sep 13, 2019
Record label: Sacred Bones
In a statement accompanying the announcement of her seventh record, The Practice of Love, Jenny Hval admitted some trepidation about the overarching subject. "Love as a theme in art has been the domain of the canonized, big artists," she wrote. "I have always seen myself as a minor character, a voice that speaks of other things." Since emerging as a solo artist over a decade ago, some of these "other things" have included vampires, menstruation, gender identity, and capitalism.
To differing extents, uncertainty, and even fear, have always clouded Jenny Hval's music. This is no insult. It's led to some of the most singular, spellbinding albums in recent memory, from the clinical yet sticky observations of Innocence is Kinky to the obsessive, often haunting Blood Bitch. She seemed an artist sure to be forever grounded in the darker corners of our collective psyche, finding inspiration in the murkiest corners of her mind.
She has always seemed to have an endless well of ideas to draw from, especially of late: her last release, The Long Sleep, was a rumination on death and its consequences, while her previous LP, the avant-garde masterpiece Blood Bitch, was a raw, vivid dissection of the confluence of thematic similarities between vampirism and menstruation. That album, more than any of her others (even the rather hilarious, Björk-flavoured Apocalypse, Girl) cut deep, and left the listener bleeding. It's shocking, brutal, honest and undoubtedly one of the finest high-brow records released in recent memory, specifically due to its unflinching take on the concept.
With each of her albums, Jenny Hval uses different facets of pop music to express her intricate concepts. To explore love as an action rather than a passive state of being, on The Practice of Love, she borrows the sound of '90s trance as a backdrop for her musings. It's an unlikely but ultimately inspired combination: The washy synths, wide-open spaces, and hypnotic yet energetic beats of trance music let Hval's ideas flow in a remarkably engaging way while also harking back to the floaty sounds of Innocence Is Kinky.
Edit Piaf once said, "Use your faults, use your defects; then you're going to be a star." Jenny Hval knows it, for her "combined failures" have served her well across her liberating bodyssey of articulating the semiotic flesh and singing it back into language, now reaching a seventh full-length release. Never a mere provocateur, always peeking through the keyhole of the self into the human condition on the art-life intersection through her radically intimate magical feminist lens. Hval has always been a relentless explorer of the dark corners of visceral emotionality, body horror, and delight in the accidental profundity of things brought together in unexpected juxtapositions.
Following on from last year's empyreal E.P. 'The Long Sleep,' Norwegian avant-garde artist Jenny Hval has returned to grace our ears with her seventh full-length. Sharing much DNA with 2016's outstanding 'Blood Bitch,' these eight fresh tracks are at times torturously intimate, sweet and nightmarish - often in the same moment. Taking friends Vivian Wang, Laura Jean Englert, and Felicia Atkinson along for the ride, Hval combines conversational snippets with 90s synths and her trademark vocals to create an intoxicating journey.