ALBUM: Jenny Hval – ‘The Practice Of Love’

A confessional, intimate, emotion-spanning work; Jenny Hval‘s new album The Practice Of Love explores the spectrum of love and relationships through swirling synths and revealing lyrics. It’s a marked departure from the darkness of her 2016 album Blood Bitch, but equally as complex and memorable.

Loosely inspired by Valie Export’s 1985 film of the same name, Hval admits she’s “mostly avoided love as a topic” in her work because she views the intimacy that comes with it as “a lifelong journey”. However, it’s her desire to communicate this truth that’s fueled the creation of her new record.

Opening track ‘Lions’ is brought to life by friend & collaborator Vivian Wang’s measured voice. She guides listeners, instructing them to look across a forest landscape for a holy entity, as Hval’s ethereal vocals overlap her. The duality of the voices form separate parts of the same story, which is simultaneously off-putting and exciting.

A shimmering, textured, surreal take on creativity, second track ‘High Alice’ centers around a re-imagined version of the eponymous character from Alice In Wonderland. Here, Hval plays with the clichés surrounding what it means to be a woman who makes art. Her gentle vocals, looped beats and narrative perspective demonstrate her ability to captivate listeners with her intricate musical storytelling.

‘Accident’ (featuring Laura Jean) is a conversation between two women about birth, life, and an indifference to Motherhood. The oddly poetic line “she found stretch-mark cream in and air b&b” adds a lightness to an otherwise heavy topic. The album’s title track ‘The Practice of Love’ features the voices of Hval, Laura Jean & Vivian Wang, discussing the many strands that make up the web of love. It begs multiple listens so that each voice can be appreciated, but the overlapping of multiple different sentiments makes for a captivating listen. Self love, romantic love, platonic love – all are covered and contemplated on this piece of Hval’s puzzle of intimacy.

‘Ashes To Ashes’ is a strangely uplifting electronic affair. Hval blends gentle vocals, startling lyrics and deceptively catchy beats to communicate issues of morality. Following track ‘Thumbsucker’ (featuring Félicia Atkinson) is a pensive, curious listen that sees Hval “withdrawing word by word, back in to the rabbit hole” for safety. It’s not long before she reemerges with penultimate track ‘Six Red Cannas’ (featuring all three of her collaborators), with its catchy beats inspired by 90s trance music.

Hval closes The Practice Of Love with the humbly titled track ‘Ordinary’. It’s a charming celebration of the desire to share universal feelings, which by default makes us all very ordinary. Except, Hval’s “ordinary” isn’t quite so. Even when she strives for it, her wonderful “otherness” sets her apart from other “ordinary” artists who delve in to the same themes. That is truly worth celebrating, and practicing love for.

Jenny Hval’s new album The Practice Of Love will be released via Sacred Bones on 13th September. Pre-order your copy here.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Jenny Hval – ‘High Alice’

A swirling, textured, surreal take on creativity; Norwegian artist Jenny Hval has shared her her latest single ‘High Alice’. Taken from her upcoming album The Practice of Love – set for release via Sacred Bones on 13th September – the song centers around a re-imagined version of the eponymous character from Alice In Wonderland.

“For a while, this song felt like my entire album. I had no idea what the rest of it would be, just a feeling like this song and the title, the two words ‘High Alice,’ would get me there” explains Hval. “My guiding stars at the time were Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star and Kylie Minogue’s ‘Confide In Me.’ Maybe ‘High Alice’ is the narrator of this album. I don’t know how I wrote it, it was automatic. But I found it really funny that I mentioned the sea three times. ‘High Alice’ goes to all the places I have taught myself to avoid, like the four Big Themes: Love, death, life, the ocean…”

A departure from the darkness of her 2016 album Blood Bitch, Hval’s new record seems much lighter in feel and theme, but equally as complex and emotive. The gentle vocals, looped beats, and the narrative featured on ‘High Alice’ demonstrate Hval’s ability to captivate listeners with her intimate musical storytelling. She’s able to navigate the difficulties of love and loss via her ‘High Alice’ moniker with enviable simplicity

Listen to the track below and follow Jenny Hval on Facebook for more updates.

Jenny Hval’s new album The Practice of Love is released via Sacred Bones on 13th September. Pre-order your copy here.

Jenny Hval – The Practice of Love 2019 Performances
Fri. Sept. 20 – Sat. Sept. 21 – Oslo, NO @ Ultima Festival
Sun. Sept. 29 – London, UK @ Milton Court
Wed. Oct. 16 – Frankfurt, DE @ Mousonturm
Wed. Oct. 30 – Paris, FR @ Centre Pompidou
Sat. Nov. 9 – Utrecht, NL @ Le Guess Who? Festival
Sat. Nov. 23 – Katowice, PL @ Ars Cameralis Festival

Photo credit: Lasse Marhaug

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Jenny Hval – ‘Ashes To Ashes’

Sacred Bones signee Jenny Hval has shared her new single ‘Ashes To Ashes’ and it’s an uplifting electronic affair. The track is taken from her upcoming album, The Practice of Love, which is set for release on 13th September.

The Norwegian multidisciplinary artist blends gentle vocals, startling lyrics, and deceptively catchy beats to communicate issues of morality on her new record. It sits in stark contrast to her 2016 album Blood Bitch, and features the voices of collaborators Vivian Wang, Laura Jean Englert, and Félicia Atkinson.

Speaking about her new album and the themes it encompasses, Hval explains: “This all sounds very clichéd, like a standard greeting card expression, but for me love, and the practice of love, has been deeply tied to the feeling of otherness. Love as a theme in art has been the domain of the canonized, big artists, and I have always seen myself as a minor character, a voice that speaks of other things. But in the last few years I have wanted to take a closer look at the practice of otherness, this fragile performance, and how it can express love, intimacy, empathy and desire. I have wanted to ask bigger, wider, kind of idiotic questions like: What is our job as a member of the human race? Do we have to accept this job, and if we don’t, does the pressure to be normal ever stop?”

She may be humble about the impact of her voice in the wider industry, but we believe in the power of Jenny Hval’s vision and we’re excited to join her on her journey through love and otherness. Listen to ‘Ashes To Ashes’ below and follow Jenny Hval on Facebook for more updates.

Pre-order Jenny Hval’s upcoming album The Practice of Love here.

Photo credit: Lasse Marhaug

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut