It is no more than a few minutes in that one realizes that Jenny Hval is not the average singer songwriter, and Viscera
is not the average album. Viscera
is a dark and confounding folk record, contorted and turned inward; a stark and introspective revelation made by the elusive and brilliant Jenny Hval. The album is an all-encompassing entity that projects as strongly as it reflects. More importantly, however, is that it is a bold statement by Ms. Hval herself, proclaiming the beginning of what could be a bright and wonderful career.
, despite the multitude of emotions is evokes, is actually a difficult beast to describe. Hval has crafted a deceptively simple album, with unpredictable twists and turns at every corner. Her voice is the main aspect, but her often subtle use of instrumentals is just as impressive. Solemn acoustic guitar plays under her light croon in “How Gentle,” while a wild explosion arises in the later parts of “Portrait of a Young Girl as an Artist.” Her voice perfectly acclimates to whatever situation arises, whether it is for chaos or beauty. This is the most impressive part in all of Viscera
. Hval has immense control over her vocals and delivery, sounding vastly different within each song, fitting the atmosphere and mood to a tee. She uses her prowess as a vehicle for the all-too-personal lyrics that make the album the complex and daring entity that it is. Many will ride it off as perverse drivel, but Hval’s metaphorical mentions of her vagina make the album that much more interesting.
is the rare album that teeters on the brink of perfection in regards to songwriting. There are moments in music where everything comes together so painfully perfect that it simply wouldn’t work any other way. Viscera
is filled with said moments. For example, the multiple layers of vocals in “Milk of Marrow” often make some of the most staggering moments on the entire album. The intersecting melodies are so gorgeous and evocative that it feels meticulously crafted, while at the same time, wholly organic. But it is the album’s final track that proves the sheer emotional value of the entire package. “Black Morning/Viscera” is a mere acoustic track, as Hval has only her guitar and voice. Yet it is with these that she creates her simplest and most stunning song; a piece that encapsulates Viscera
as whole, with Hval’s last gasp showing her frailty as she is now stripped bare.
, at its core, is a folk record with indie leanings, but it is Jenny Hval-the artist-that makes it more that. The album is a testament to the power of creativity and ingenuity mixed with personal experience; a heart wrenching piece of music that doubles as one of the finest debuts in years.