Apocalypse, girl is a great listen with all kinds of fun touches.Sacred Bones, 2015
7.0 / 10
The verbiage to describe the kind of music Jenny Hval has been making for at least the past five years, regardless of the quality, has remained the same: slanted pop albums that explore, among other things, sexuality and the concept of self as reflected through societal expectation. This is heady stuff, in other words, and I can just as easily imagine another member of our staff giving any of her recent albums a perfect score as I can imagine someone giving this a virulently negative review. I’m to thank/blame for getting Earbuddy to talk about Hval in the first place, and I suppose that makes me the most qualified of our staff to discuss her work. Apocalypse, girl, her latest album, might suffer from my hearing so much of her work.
Put simply, there’s very little here that wasn’t already covered in some form (and with more artistry and consideration) on her previous solo full-length, Innocence Is Kinky. She’s still discussing her carnal tendencies, she’s obsessed with the meaning of existence, and she’s uncertain if the stories we tell ourselves are to our benefit or detriment. Aside from this featuring what I believe to be weaker overall compositions that don’t work to Hval’s strengths—if Kinky felt like Streethawk: A Seduction, Apocalypse, girl, comparatively, feels like Kaputt—the songs here don’t invite as much introspection or reading. Few phrases fly out and demand discussion. Innocence was a weird album with a purpose, and while I’m not about to suggest that this is purposeless music, I’m given little purpose to dig into this.
I have no qualms about copping to be the guy who is ragging on a good album because I’ve heard this artist create better work. Divorced of context, Apocalypse, girl is a great listen with all kinds of fun touches, and the expanded palette could serve Hval well in the future. There really isn’t a bad track here save for the ten-minute closing track, “Holy Land”, which feels more like a collection of noise with Hval moaning over it, which feels like a lost opportunity when compared to much of Prurient’s Frozen Niagara Falls. I hope this is a transitional album; Hval’s profile is steadily rising, and this is as good a time as any to put out an accessible project.