The Bloody Brilliance of Jenny Hval | Music Briefs | Indy Week
Pin It

The Bloody Brilliance of Jenny Hval 

Jenny Hval opens her 2015 record Apocalypse, girl with a set of instructions. "Think big, girl. Like a king," she says with a slow, intentional patience on "Kingsize." A few seconds later, she poses the question, "What is soft dick rock?" It may be a jarring start for those unfamiliar with Hval's work, but it's a hallmark of her talent for pushing listeners out of their comfort zones. Hval isn't just a gifted experimental musician with a knack for wry turns of phrase. She's making some of the most unusual and affirming music of this decade.

Hval's work can be called "feminist," but it's far from any splashy girl-power pop anthems. Rather, Hval seems most concerned with exposing the intimate and often uncomfortable truths of living as female, vacillating between harsh sonic prickles and gentle reassurances. Apocalypse, girl dug into ideas of expectations within gender roles ("What is it to take care of yourself? What are we taking care of?" she asks on "That Battle Is Over"), while 2016's Blood Bitch was a loose concept record about female vampires and menstrual periods. She's unafraid to explore sex and sexuality, addressing it with an engrossing, flat frankness.

When Hval inverts our ideas of sex, romance, and intimacy, as she does on songs like "Conceptual Romance," the results are mesmerizing—even the insecurity of self-doubt can be liberating for Hval. "It can be about refusing to accept the self as we know it—refusing to be owned by people who look at you, or to be pigeonholed," she said in a 2015 interview with Pitchfork.

Next week, Hval releases a new EP, The Long Sleep, which she concludes with another fleck of tenderness. "I want to tell you something. I just want to say, thank you. I love you," she murmurs. Her soft, professed adoration feels almost as disarming as hearing her speak about cocks or taking birth control with rosé—and therein lies Hval's clever power.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music Briefs



Twitter Activity

Comments

Hey! He was in The Small Ponds, goddammit.

by Skillet Gilmore on Record Review: Matt Douglas Has a Need for Reeds on His Woodwinds-Only Solo Debut (Music Briefs)

I found the performance to be incredibly boring, blown away by the openers. But then again, I am only really …

by terryboo on Live: Bill Callahan Sees How Low He Can Go (Music Briefs)

Most Recent Comments

Hey! He was in The Small Ponds, goddammit.

by Skillet Gilmore on Record Review: Matt Douglas Has a Need for Reeds on His Woodwinds-Only Solo Debut (Music Briefs)

I found the performance to be incredibly boring, blown away by the openers. But then again, I am only really …

by terryboo on Live: Bill Callahan Sees How Low He Can Go (Music Briefs)

"One Fine Morning" was the first time I got choked up, but not the last. Great opening set, too.

by Bill Floyd on Live: Bill Callahan Sees How Low He Can Go (Music Briefs)

Marcy Playground still sells out shows. They've been touring and putting out material for over 20 years. It seems to …

by K Inez Seube on The State Fair's Musical Headliners Are Here—Country Rock, An Eagles Tribute, and...Marcy Playground? (Music Briefs)

Scotty, you sound like no one else. Who could rate you? …

by Mike Dillon on Hopscotch 2015: Make another move (bands to maybe miss this time) (Music Briefs)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation