Norwegian experimental musician Jenny Hval has returned with her third solo album. In this album Jenny Hval pushes the musical boundaries to the absolute extreme here, however in most parts she takes things a little too far into the experimental direction. The music ranges from being simple and rather bland to being completely disjointed, sadly the two extremes are hit quite frequently but not so a happy medium.
The album opens with the strange, spoken word, ‘Kingsize’. The vocals, delivered almost robotically, consist was what seems to be random thoughts tagged together haphazardly. This creates a confronting feel that ultimately become unenjoyable to listen to. This is followed by very chilling 40 second ‘Somedays’, consisting of 30 seconds of weird noises followed by a few timid words. Next is ‘White Underground’. There are all sorts of strange sounds going off creating a gritty industrial atmosphere. The trouble is it is too disjointed and doesn’t feel like it is really going anywhere. ‘Sabbath’ brings in an offbeat trip-hop sound. The music works okay however the vocals, moving from a kind of rapping to a kind of singing, don’t really work as they feel as odds with the fairly ambient music, and ultimately just feel awkward. ‘Holyland’ is a 10 minute journey into sounds, sadly the sounds don’t travel far from where they began making for a rather forgettable experience. ‘Take care of yourself’ consists of some notes that are so high pitched they become quite hard on the ear. The strange vocals make for an uncomfortable feel, and while it is clearly an attempt to be risqué with the lyrics they end up sounding contrived and not particularly clever.
The album closes with some promise in the form of the soft lounge sounds of the ‘Battle is over’. Here the vocals are a nice balance of being offbeat but also flowing nicely. The smooth soundtrack is simple but effective in allowing the vocals to shine through.
It’s clear that Jenny Hval was trying to create something unique and challenging with this record, and to a large extent she has achieved this. However the lack of convention has gone so far that the songs generally feel so disjointed that they sound more like random noises, and irritating ones at that.