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Jenny Hval: Apocalypse, Girl

Norway’s artful queen of mischief returns.

Jenny Hval publishes books, orchestrates installations and, of course, makes music, although quite what she has in mind for her third solo album is anyone’s guess.

Apparently, it’s all about ‘soft dick rock’. Yes, the Norwegian Grammy Award winner has never beaten about the, um, bush when it comes to wordplay, and here she builds on the explicit metaphors of 2013’s shameless Innocence Is Kinky. Kingsize sees her weaving performance poetry over a new stripped-down sound that’s heavy on experimental noises and beats. No two tracks are the same yet everything fits together perfectly, connected by Hval’s delicate voice and direct songwriting. Production comes from noise experimentalist Lasse Marhaug. His impact resonates through tracks such as the jarring White Underground and the slick electro of Heaven, which carries an air of songstress Zola Jesus. A menagerie of special guests, including Swans’ percussionist Thor Harris and improv cellist Okkyung Lee, take the 10-minute finale Holy Land on an unexpected ghostly trip. Apocalypse, Girl is a dynamic and thought-provoking album that wears ambiguity like an elegant cloak.