Jenny Hval
The Practice of Love


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dewinged STAFF
November 21st, 2019 | 68 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The unexpected fragility of a mostly unpredictable artist.

If you are already familiar with Jenny Hval's works, The Practice of Love is not going to challenge your willpower in the way you have experienced with any of Jenny Hval's previous material, especially with 2016's raucous Blood Bitch. Compared to her previous releases, Hval's seventh output in nine years is surprisingly accessible, and dare I say, musically welcoming, so stop reading, put some headphones on, and enjoy the ride! If you are not familiar with Jenny Hval, well... then you should keep reading.

As a quick introduction, Jenny Hval is a Norwegian musician and performer widely known in the world of arts for her often overwhelming and slightly confusing live performances and mind-bending records. For this new release, Hval has enlisted a good number of musicians and artists from all around the globe, including Anja Lauvdal and Espen Reinertsen from Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, who have previously worked with her some years ago in the collective's In The End His Voice Will Be The Sound Of Paper. With Hval acting as the main voice throughout the album, The Practice of Love also features three different voices from three different places: Vivian Wang, from Singapore's art rock band The Observatory, French sculptor, poet, painter and composer Felicia Atkinson, and Australian singer songwriter Laura Jean Englert.

To talk about the themes encapsulated in a Jenny Hval's record is always a challenge, usually unfruitful and inaccurate, since the extremely abstract mind of the artist doesn't confine to human logic and conventionalisms. But there is always a sort of sponteanous spark that ignites and guides her work. In this case, The Practice of Love seems to circle around... well, love, obviously, but also touching on the concept of reproduction and the role of women as the key element in the preservation and survival of the human race. That is the shallow take, as the title track unfolds this idea chaotically, with Vivian Wang reading a monologue written by Hval for the film "Something Must Happen", directed by Lasse Marhaug, who also appears as a co-producer for the album. At the same time, a sort of casual conversation between Jenny Hval and Laura Jean happens on the right channel simultaneously, addressing the theme previously mentioned with a pinch of levity while terms like "thousand placentas" float around your left ear. Classic Jenny.

Frankly, this is the "artsiest" moment in the album, which otherwise is a solid display of aerial, electronic pop brimming with gorgeous vocal melodies and stimulating sounds straight from the Hvaleverse. "Lions" opens the album with simple but sharply spoken words: "Look at these trees, look at this grass, look at these clouds... Look at them now." In spite of the seemingly hostile feel of Hval's text, the song is a gentle, airy and heavily atmospheric track. Vivian Wang's voice appears here for the first time, singing a celestial chorus, which creates an interesting contrast with Hval's spoken venom. "High Alice" almost sounds like Post-era Björk for a moment, before the singer imprints her usual whispering singing style casting away such a mundane comparison. "Accident" flows next, with a Cate Le Bon vibe, introducing Espen Reinertsen's sax briefly as Anja Lauvdal's synths provides the structure where Hval's and Laura Jean's vocals collide forming a stellar chorus.

If I had to choose an introductory track for the masses, my choice would be "Ashes to Ashes", a cross of new age and infectious dance music that I honestly didn't expect from the Norwegian artist at this point in her career. The same can be said about "Thumbsucker" and its nurturing, caressing feel, almost too kind for the unexpected twist of events that I was anticipating on my first listen of The Practice of Love and that, to my surprise, it never happened.

Jenny Hval's seventh release may be regarded as the artist's more fragile and vulnerable work of her career. The ambitious intent and provocative elements of some of her previous albums is simply not to be found in The Practice of Love, save for the brief, self-titled interlude. As always happens with Hval, one doesn't know if this is a good or a bad thing, but as it is customary, she delivers the unexpected, this time in the form of a sensational electronic pop album worth checking if only for the mesmerizing soundscapes that, she only knows, might be the last ones you hear before she drags you back to the absurd of future potential works. With Jenny Hval, you really never know.



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user ratings (108)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
November 21st 2019


32064 Comments


I had a draft of this, written back in September, but I could never finish it because, well some of you know, it was a hard month. Not too happy with the final result though.

I would recommend to check "Ashes to Ashes" but there's no video for it.

"Accident" does have a video and it's hilarious so give it shot instead!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wACSfREgJys

Really neat album.

Chortles
November 21st 2019


21494 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nice one Dewi! I agree that this is definitely her most accessible, it’s also one of my favorite things she’s done and one of my favorites of the year as well. most of her work takes time to grow but this was instant love for me

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
November 21st 2019


32064 Comments


Tx Chorts! I had this on a 4 on first listen. Then the interlude n the last 2 tracks kinda grew off but yeah dude,there are some really amazing tracks here.

Sinternet
Contributing Reviewer
November 21st 2019


26622 Comments


surprised no one covered this already

yet to hear but apocalypse girl is like the best thing ever

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2019


32064 Comments


You'll like this one Sint.

ArsMoriendi
November 22nd 2019


41214 Comments


I like Innocence is Kinky

I gotta check other stuff by her...

rabidfish
November 22nd 2019


8728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

listen to spells on her last EP

SOtD contender, imho.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2019


32064 Comments


Viscera is still her best me thinks.

dmathias52
Staff Reviewer
November 27th 2019


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Missed that you reviewed this! It was my first experience with Hval and I was absolutely blown away. Interesting that you say it's the most accessible - In terms of song structure I think I agree, but in terms of sound I think this is a lot more experimental and "weird" than, say, "Viscera". Like I think if I were to show a casual music listener her music, "Viscera" would be more digestible. This feels more like an art collective than album almost.

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
November 27th 2019


3056 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review my g



Viscera is just fantastic. Nothing else of hers has really grabbed me as much. Also, I read her first book that's been translated into English (Paradise Rot) and it was quite good. The imagery was on point

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
November 28th 2019


32064 Comments


Thanks people. Viscera is definitely more representative of her music, because it includes the pretty and the ugly, while this once focuses more on the pretty (minus that poetry interlude).

But yeah, whatever you do, don't start with "Blood Bitch" lol

Edit: Also wanna bump the rev to a 4 but the page is borked.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2019


27975 Comments


"But yeah, whatever you do, don't start with "Blood Bitch" lol"

nah, Blood Bitch is great ;) that was the first album I heard from her and I have no problem with that

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
December 2nd 2019


32064 Comments


You are special Atari ;)

Atari
Staff Reviewer
December 2nd 2019


27975 Comments


Lol, guess I just have a special place in my heart for it being my first Hval and all

didn't realize it has more votes than Viscera tho (weird). I need to revisit that one soon

Chortles
December 4th 2019


21494 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the only part of Blood Bitch that is abrasive is The Plague tho, most of the rest is really quite soothing

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2019


32064 Comments


Hmmm I'll have to go back and check it cause I remember it being more abrasive than this one for some reason. Loving "Ashes to Ashes" right now.

oltnabrick
December 10th 2019


40711 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

my new favorite from jenny hval

butt.
December 12th 2019


10986 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hadn’t heard of this till Pitchforks year end list. Pretty cool tbh. Surprised it didn’t get more talk around these parts

cylinder
December 12th 2019


2687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Definitely my least favorite of hers, still alright tho

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2019


5025 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Jenny has such a unique personality and sound, not something I come back to often but I'm always impressed when I do. Blood Bitch slays



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