Jenny Hval Apocalypse, girl Sacred Bones
Apocalypse, girl opens with a quote from the Danish poet Mette Moestrup. One of Scandinavia’s most important contemporary writers, Moestrup struck a chord with readers for her provocative, mischievous poetry about the female body.
In this respect, she draws many parallels with Norwegian artist Jenny Hval, whose fifth solo record is a trip. Its woozy mesh of ideas spiral from childhood dreams to post-feminism via Armageddon, her unrestrained vocal delivery ranging from lush, nondescript tones to hilariously lucid imagery, like the spoken word introduction likening the cupcake to “the huge, capitalist clit.”
A politically charged fever dream, its wild rush in and out of concepts and form often sits somewhere between reality and fantasy. Yet, while being both eerie and alluring, Hval has used Apocalypse, girl to apply ideas such as post-feminist deception and the traps of domestic pursuits to a pop palette, and it’s in this she secures her most rewarding results.
Twisting pop-informed ideas around a narrative of introspection and mass destruction, she navi- gates an axis of clarity that aims to bring universal ideas into focus with razor sharp wit: joining the dots between female experience through extreme close ups and sprawling existential narratives. From the epic Primal Scream-esque shakers on The Battle Is Over, the lush orchestral swells of Heaven or the bouncy skewed organs of Why This, Hval’s placement of avant-garde vocal experiments over an ebullient soundtrack is seamless.
This soft hallucinatory experience reaches its peak on Sabbath. “I’m six or seven and dreaming I’m a boy,” she begins. It’s a lucid depiction of warping gender identity, at once focused and abstract, set to a bright, skittering pace. Confounding, yes, but thrillingly satisfying nonetheless.