Jenny Hval Innocence is Kinky

Jenny HvalInnocence is Kinky
Rightly glorified for the likes of ABBA, Björk and Sigur Rós, Scandinavia is generally viewed as a locale for considered, epic music; its beauty unrivalled in territories with inferior fjord-, mountain- and glacier-per-capita figures. It would be a shame, however, if that were always the case. Much like fellow Norwegians Sacred Harp (check out their modern-psych masterpiece, Window's a Fall), Jenny Hval plots a crude new point on the map of musical extremities. Innocence is Kinky is by turns surreal and hyper-real, a Lynch-ian underworld of avant-pop, alt-lit poetry and potent sexuality. Though the more wailing moments recall Karen Dreijer Andersson and Kate Bush, Hval's musical diversity, whispered monologues and licentious wit place her in Serge Gainsbourg's hallowed lineage. And the music is stunning. The John Parish-produced record's eponymous opener — an ambiguous missive on pornography's psychological fallout — is breathtaking, dystopic post-punk, while "Mephisto in the Water" lends soft, Newsom-esque vocals to synth mantras as enchanting as woodland streams. Then, after songs invoking Oedipus, Joan of Arc, split hymens and bird shit, the unsettling "Death of the Author" is an elegant finale worthy of on-point Björk. A public in full possession of its marbles would lionize Jenny Hval. But, of course, only the right-thinking minority will. (Rune Grammofon)