Jenny Hval has soared into the experimental scene since the release of Viscera, the first album under her own name. The quality of her work, and the scope of her vision continued to take form through a series of excellent records in Innocence is Kinky and Apocalypse, girl and is now reaching a peak with her newest album. Blood Bitch marks Hval's most personal record, as she herself states, featuring themes of blood and vampirism, an aspect that becomes obvious even from the cover of the work. This investigation of blood is carried out in a very cinematic and lifelike manner, where the elements of Hval's unique sound brew transverse the sonic realm and become more realistic.
It is a record set into an art pop world, with experimental and avantgarde notions coming into play. However, there is a strong push towards a dream pop scenery, something that closely brings to mind Cocteau Twins in terms of vibe and style. There is a certain serenity, a feeling of peace that comes into light with “Secret Touch” or “Conceptual Romance,” crafting an ethereal atmosphere out of the pop realm. It comes nicely into play with the electronic leanings that are apparent in the work, at times taking on a late '70s and early '80s approach, constructing a terrific illusion, or acquiring tribal-esque aesthetics, as in “The Plague,” moving closer to the experimental realm.
There is a push towards the more extreme and experimental side, where the parts become astoundingly brutal. “The Plague” features moments when effects run berserk and noise is piercing through the wall of sound, before drones set in and wash all this away. Hval mentions that this is her first record where she is reconnecting with the goth and metal scene, and remembering the effect of the atmosphere in the records of Norwegian black metal scene. This is highlighted in the manner the record begins with “Ritual Awakening” carrying us across in subtle drones, while the melodic lines of “Lorna” definitely feature some of the hellish aspect of the melodic side of black metal.
The fictitious story that Blood Bitch follows is key in enhancing the album's effect. Heavily influenced by horror and exploitation films from the '70s, something apparent from the ambiance of the record, and the perspective that Hval's lyrics take, it terrifically unfolds through each track. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, with Hval using sample that make meta-reference of the album itself, and dealing with complex, personal issues, marking Blood Bitch as an intriguing psychological trip through the composer's mind.
8.5 / 10
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