Jenny Hval The Long Sleep Sacred Bones
Norwegian avant-pop performer Jenny Hval is an artist of versatility. Her approach to musical styles has shifted and developed over time, from early gothic metal as a member of Shellyz Raven to the eerie choral folk of her initial solo venture, Rockettothesky. As Jenny Hval, her music mixes provocative social commentary on gender and sexuality with a lyrical sophistication that’s both matched and assuaged by delicate sonic compositions.
For The Long Sleep, more subtle conceptual movements are taking place across four tracks, which were recorded with touring member and long time collaborator Håvard Volden – as well as an additional quartet of jazz musicians on percussion and wind instruments. Opening track Spells presents an elaborate layering of electric guitar, saxophone and keys, underscoring Hval’s bellow of the chorus, “You will not be awake for long.” The Dreamer is Everyone in Her Dream to follow, picks up on that same lyric in a more sparsely arranged piano number, along with the whisper, “You might be in pieces, but let’s call it something else.” That particular song echoes the simplicity of PJ Harvey’s 2007 catalogue diversion, White Chalk, which speaks as much to the stylistic similarities between the two records as it does an aesthetic mutability between the two artists. Perhaps following a similar trajectory, Hval builds up and out of the more combative themes and approaches to earlier albums like Apocalypse, girl and Blood Bitch with the more meandering rhythms of indie pop that’s swathed in poignant romanticism. A free-spirited flush of melody for mending a broken heart.