Even in her most tangible form, Jenny Hval does not remind anyone else of the Norwegian pop reality.
Since her well-titled debut album, “To Sing You Apple Trees,” released under the name Rockettothesky in 2006, Jenny Haval has pushed the boundaries of the way popular music (in the broad sense, think of you) could act—and made her severely possess a place. Between electronics, people, and sometimes feisty art music on the road.
This universe, which also spawned three novels, has consistently contained themes and motifs ranging from advanced language theory and classical literature to mythical beasts, sex and death, and generous amounts of bodily fluids. Physical condition – living conditions and a wardrobe of horror – is a key component of the 41-year-old’s project.
Like her previous eponymous album, “The Practice of Love” (2019), “Classic Objects” – her first album on the legendary record label 4AD – belongs to the most accessible and engaging part of Hval’s business.
But where its predecessors were based on the shimmering polish and ecstatic aesthetics, the expression here is more warm and organic, with the rhythm of Hans Holbayko’s voice perhaps the most important element after the main character’s voice.
The opening track “Year of Love” and the subsequent “American Coffee” amplify the small but heartbreaking details of adulthood – filled with doubt and self-criticism, but also humor. Songs such as the title track, “Jupiter” and the lavish “Freedom” are not only perfect pop songs, but also engage in meditations on art, nature, and identity.
Two songs might benefit from being more succinct, while the roughly two-minute “Freedom” could easily last twice as long. The typical utterance of a whale is part of the wonderful “graveyard of grandeur,” which is eventually devoured by the sounds of nature, threatening to be seen as an alienation in context.
But this violent, sharp and wild music that can reach a relatively large audience – not least outside the country’s borders – says that there is still hope for the world, albeit not that thin.
Best Song: “Jupiter”
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