Jenny Hval: Innocence Is Kinky (Rune Grammofon, 2013)

May 7, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jenny Hval: Innocence Is Kinky

Jenny Hval: Innocence Is Kinky

Heavily hyped new album from Norwegian vocalist, guitar player and author Jenny Hval, who formerly released music under the name Rockettothesky and as part of duo Nude On Sand. Produced by John Parish, and there’s definitely a PJ Harvey vibe here in some ways, but it’s less aggressive than PJ can be, maybe a bit more lush and more delicate instrumentation. Very sexually charged (the first few seconds of the first track will make your ears perk up), uses both drum machines and live drums, has ethereal moments as well as more rocking ones, and plenty of Scandinavian strangeness. The opening title track has throbbing drum machines, sexy sometimes-whispered vocals, and provocative minimal guitar and atmosphere. “Mephisto In The Water” has light drum machine beats, lots of ethereal vocal harmonies, and twinkly keyboards. Reminds me of Julia Holter a lot. “I Called” is more rockin’ and has lots of weird noisy guitar offsetting the vocals, which sounds cool. “Oslo Oedipus” has ethereal vocals and atmosphere in the beginning, then spoken word over a squished, background hip-hop loop and some weird talking. “Renée Falconetti Of Orléans” starts with more spoken word referencing the album’s title again, then after a minute of that goes into singing over a minimal throbbing beat. After about 3 minutes it all seems to dissolve into mist. “Give Me That Sound” starts with brief spoken word, then goes into some hard-panned noises, and heavily feedback-damaged and sexually charged spoken word in the left channel, with some slowed down creepy voices and sludgy, droney music in the right channel. Track 7 is called “I Got No Strings” but has nothing to do with Pinnochio. Well, actually it does lyrically, but it’s not a cover. Instead, it’s kind of a nervous, shapeshifting rocker with scraggly drums and alternately piercing and shy, introspective vocals. “Is There Anything On Me That Doesn’t Speak?” starts with more spoken word, then does more often-changing sometimes-dramatic vocals and guitar and drum driven music. “Amphibious, Androgynous” is atmospheric and ethereal vocals with some strumming guitar slowly fading in. Quite lovely. “Death Of the Author” continues in the haunting, ethereal vibe of the previous track, with softly shuddering drums and simmering guitars, until about 2 minutes in when the rhythm picks up and the song kicks into gear. Album closer “The Seer” starts droney and drumless with Sinead O’Connor-esque vocals, then briefly featuring some sputtering drum machines and spoken vocals before dissolving and ending the album.

Overall, I’m not entirely getting a hold on this album yet, but there’s definitely some immediately striking, beautiful moments, so it seems worth investigating.

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