On Apocalypse, Girl, the fifth album by Jenny Hval, the Norwegian art-rock chanteuse picks up right where she left off with previous releases like Innocence Is Kinky and Meshes of Voice, ruminating on sex, vulnerability, capitalism, intimacy, and uneasiness. It’s difficult subject matter, but after spending so long tackling it, Hval has emerged as supremely confident and cogent in her ideas regarding these topics.
Opening the album with some lines from the Danish poet Mette Moestrup, Hval tells herself “Think big, girl, like a king. Think king size.” This she does, and eventually with much bigger questions than the admittedly hilarious “What is soft dick rock?” She has a beautiful voice, and the musical content (which features guest spots from members of Jaga Jazzist and Swans) is largely quieter and more ambient, but this isn’t music that’s intended to comfort. It’s music that is meant to challenge and confound.
On Apocalypse, Girl, Hval’s vulnerability, her open intimacy, is turned around on itself and reclaimed as a source of empowerment. Layers of humor and anger and lust intertwine powerfully throughout. It’s another stellar record from an artist who’s a regular fixture on various year-end best of lists. I’m sure this one will continue that trend.
Apocalypse, Girl is available now from Sacred Bones.