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Norwegian singer/composer Jenny Hval’s latest offering features scrapped-together noise collages, fractured spoken word pieces and genuine pop songs driven by stream-of-consciousness lyrics. The intimate collection of low-key art pop is gloriously weird and deeply human.
First single That Battle Is Over could go toe-to-toe with any alt-folk tune left of the dial. It’s not catchy, but its groove is comforting enough to be trance-like, belying Hval’s subject matter: “Statistics and newspapers tell me I am unhappy and dying / that I need man and child to fulfill me.” Heaven is almost as accessible, Hval’s gymnastic warble perched above the sound of waves, electronic beats and dramatic strings. She covers an impressive range of emotion using soaring vocal crescendos and spoken passages. A rare trip-up is the boring, screechy White Underground.
It can be difficult to find an ending for an album like Apocalypse, Girl, with its complicated concepts and range of sounds. But Hval is right on the money with 10-minute Holy Land, an epic riser that manages to convey what ascension might feel like.
Top track: That Battle Is Over
Jenny Hval plays the Drake Underground on August 4.