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Jenny Hval Blood Bitch

The title of Jenny Hval’s fourth album will cue you into the record’s main themes, namely menstruation and vampires. Less sonically easygoing than 2015’s Apocalypse, girland co-produced with noise musician Lasse Marhaug, there are moments of abrasiveness on Blood Bitch, but for the most part Hval is quietly entrancing. Her voice slips spectrally between spare, programmed drums and Angelo Badalamenti synth washes. She’s Carmilla, turned to mist and let loose at a Haxan Cloak gig.

The Norwegian polymath’s voice remains her most striking instrument. Her practised yet foreign English is redolent of Charlotte Gainsbourg, hushed and hypnotic. Spoken word verses sound like they were recorded outside the studio. She hyperventilates as a guide track to the buzzing keys of ‘In The Red’. Her words have the stream of consciousness logic and abstract clarity of a dream.

As with her previous records, identity and bodies remain Hval’s primary lyrical preoccupations - on ‘Innocence Is Kinky’, she yearns to sing in a voice “like a continuous echo of splitting hymens” - except she lampshades easy readings of the album with a ‘Valley Girl’-esque interlude.

Amid all the heavy content and soul baring, Jenny Hval is also very funny. Blood Bitchis open and inscrutable. It’s an art pop album that calls to mind Julia Kristeva, early Grimes and Belgian vampire movie Daughters of Darkness. This is the most confident record she’s produced yet. It’s bloody brilliant.

Tom Baker

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