Jenny Hval – Classic Objects

Norwegian experimenter Jenny Hval continues her turn towards clarity on Classic Objects with stunning results

Album Review by Lewis Wade | 08 Mar 2022
  • Jenny Hval – Classic Objects
Album title: Classic Objects
Artist: Jenny Hval
Label: 4AD
Release date: 11 Mar

Classic Objects is Jenny Hval's response to the COVID pandemic. It makes little direct reference, but its simplicity and openness come from a desire to confront what art becomes when the artist is forced to look inward. Many artists choose this as a creative device, but the pandemic made it a necessity.

The results are breathtaking. Hval's voice has never sounded better: the upper range on Year of Sky; the intricate bobbing and weaving through the arrangement on Year of Love. There are moments of lyrical intrigue, like nurses reciting philosophy on American Coffee or the fragmentary musing on The Revolution Will Not Be Owned, that contrast with diaristic straightforwardness (Year of Sky, Classic Objects). And the arrangements are thoughtfully constructed, often catchy (American Coffee, Jupiter), sometimes stark (Freedom), but always engaging, with a frequent dose of driving bongos. The softly undulating synths on Year of Sky make a bubbly bed for Hval's searching voice, turning the mundane into the ethereal.

There's no hint of pretension in these explorations, nor is the embrace of melody a sign of commercial pandering (Cemetery of Splendour still manages to sneak in two minutes of crickets). This is untethered, uncluttered music, made with real heart by an artist at her peak.

Listen to: American Coffee, Year of Love, Jupiter