ALBUM REVIEW: "The Practice of Love" - Jenny Hval
RELEASE DATE: September 2019
GENRE: AVANT-GARDE, ART-POP, SPOKEN WORD
In explaining the incongruent and oversaturated word for love in her native language, (Jenny Hval is Norwegian), The Practice of Love exists in many different manifestations of the sepulchral, quietly rebellious and the cinematic.
Practice of Love eschews from the graphic explorations of blood, horror and vampires from Jenny Hval's previous works for a more unabashedly gothic romanticism. It is a beautiful album because of it's juxtapositions. Like the very real, slightly ordinary descriptions in her storytelling in her song "Accident" placed on top of pulsating sounds that serve as a kind of dramatic time bomb ("She found stretch mark cream on an Airbnb Bathroom"). Jenny Hval speaks, ahead of refrains about being an accident.
Ashes to Ashes subtly groovy backbeat is a full psychic consciousness telling a narrative of life and death that also repeats this wonderful mundaneness. ("I had a dream about this song that I had not written yet like I used to dream of fucking before I even knew how") The little sax samples (like in Thumbsucker) is what swivels the sunbeam over it all, washing over Jenny Hval's quasi-gothic synths and vocal harmonies with beautiful voices from the likes of Laura Jean and Vivian Wang. There is a tug-of-war between cosy and cold. Spoken word become purveyors of atmosphere amid slightly cheesy yet riveting bits of production. In a narrative inspired by the likes of Alice In Wonderland, but a more adult version, High Alice sees this amalgamation fine-tune itself from repetitive raves to mystical whispers.
Elements of trance music in the tail end of Six Red Cannas also gives off this same effect.
The climax of this album for me has to be the self-titled track. Although it's not much in terms of the arrangement, the simultaneous monologues/dialogues fading in and out act like the weirdest orchestra; where instruments are replaced with clips of conversations. Practice of Love feels big, but at the same time, there is nothing about it that is overtly grandeur. No concept to put on a boastful flag of creative loudness. It's more of a journal by a character you've met before in between the stupidly cheesy land that is fact and fiction. Every page worth a ponder, even if you don't really know the author. Definitely, an album to absorb in one sitting.