Thursday, January 26, 2012

Album Review: Jenny Hval - Viscera

Album Rating: A-
File under "Albums I wish I would have paid more attention to last year."  There's really no denying that Jenny Hval's Viscera should have not only made my end of the year list, but others' lists as well.  And sure, maybe too much stock is put into "The List," especially from self-proclaimed music critics such as myself, but recognition of an artist's work goes a long way in regards to promotion.  And believe me, this girl needs--and deserves--all the promotion she can get because Viscera is one of the freshest and most intriguing albums I have heard in a long, long time.

Viscera is indie/folk turned on its head; a near undefinable record that is as shockingly introspective as it is daring and engaging.  Armed with her guitar and voice, Jenny Hval stuns with a sense of ingenuity rarely seen in today's music. It's thematically dark and winding, with an overall tone of mystery.  But the depths of Viscera are more daunting upon further  listens, as the record is stunning in its scope.  While it may appear on the surface to be a very minimal indie record, it becomes clear that there's more than meets the eye.  Hval is a master at layering sounds, giving the album a grander, more epic feel than one would think.  Her songwriting is incredible, as each of the tracks vary wildly from one another, with surprises around every single corner.

There are moments in music where I preemptively think, "if they would just hit that one note or chord, that would be perfect."  Typically this wish is usually a simple pipe dream.  However, every moment that nears perfection on Viscera  actually acheives the desired greatness.  Some of Hval's vocal melodies are heart-wrenchingly beautiful, and her minimalist approach to instrumentaion is typically spot on.  Rarely does she disappoint, with each and every second being used for something, whether it be melody or atmosphere.

As cliche as it sounds, it's difficult to describe Viscera to someone who has not yet heard it.  In all sincerity, it is something that needs to be heard, rather than read about.  Plunge head first into the murky depths of this album, and discover a bold new talent in the making.


1. Engines In The City
2. Blood Flight
3. Portrait Of The Young Girl As An Artist
4. How Gentle
5. A Silver Fox
6. Golden Locks
7. This Is A Thirst
8. Milk Of Marrow
9. Black Morning / Viscera

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