Review Summary: A thing of beauty
One glance at the album cover and a hint at the concept of blood-thirsty vampires, and one could understandably jump to the conclusion that Blood Bitch
is a lot more jarring and pretentious than it really is. That’s not to say it isn’t a gritty and even odd listening experience – intense panting sounds rattle the nerves on ‘In the Red’ and demented screams escape from the heart of ‘The Plague’ – but somehow Jenny Hval manages to create a thing of beauty amongst the madness. Even surrounded by haunting synths and detailed electronics, Jenny Hval’s vocal performance on Blood Bitch
always seductively floats above all the hussle ‘n bussle around her. ‘Female Vampire’ is full of life, with constant beats and various effects clashing around the experimental Norwegian songwriter, yet when it’s over, it’s nothing other than Hval’s enticing, angelic vocals that echo in your mind.
Jenny Hval is an artist unafraid to explore the boundaries of sexuality and identity, and this time around, she’s exploring said topics through a loose concept involving vampires, and of course, blood. Naturally, this makes for an interesting lyrical approach, but Hval never seems to bite off more than she can chew here – with lyrics that require additional interpretation, but feel more elegant and honest than they do excessive. On ‘Period Piece’ Hval makes a brave confession regarding visits to the gynecologist that would make typical artists blush, but her piercing vocals are warmly inviting over the intricately placed beats. As perplexing as her work is from a lyrical standpoint, however, Blood Bitch
primarily draws its appeal through musical exploration. ‘Untamed Region’ has more spoken-word sections than it does singing, but is carried with ease by gorgeously muffled saxophones and eerily discreet sound effects. ‘The Great Undressing’ also finds the peculiar musician testing the confines of her sound, with a playful piece of dialogue that paves the way for Hval’s most stunning vocals on the album, with bouncy yet muted electronics that feel vibrant and animated alongside the singer’s heavenly echo.
With no prior knowledge of Jenny Hval’s previous music, I have the task of dissecting Blood Bitch
without any built-up expectations or comparisons – but if Hval’s latest album is anything to go off of, she’s one of the most unique female musician’s of the modern age. With a knack for understanding musical composition, Hval has pieced together a handful of off-the-wall ideas with biting lyrics to build a piece of unrelenting beauty. It’s hard to say how it all works – and, there’s always a sense an album of this nature shouldn’t be so accessible – but it works.
Despite controversial lyrics, unconventional song structures, and a lofty concept, Blood Bitch
somehow fits like a defiant glove against all the odds.