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Boomkat Product Review:
Jenny Hval puckers her purest pop creations on her debut for 4AD, after 10 years making some of the most distinctive solo work in her field.
Jenny’s first album since 2019 is, perhaps unavoidably, her “lockdown” recording, but expectedly crafty with it, drawing on a knack for observant lyrical poetry and timeless melody for her version of a “pop album”, proper. Where her previous work naturally experimented with song structure in a dreamlike way, this one's better defined by the songs’ verse-chorus-verse arrangements. Yet the oneiric appeal is still in strong effect thanks to strangely damaged and elusive post-production mixing by Heba Kadry, who introduces a subtly sore texture to proceedings meant to sound as though it’s being played through “a stereo in a mysterious room.” In effect it finds her songs edging closer to a sort of pop’s truth while masking them in patinas of uncertainty, conjuring a hallucinatory space of investigation between her reality and yours.
Starting out with the balmy bossa nova hustle of ‘Year of Love’ her sound brims and bristles with a strange energy that carries from a sort of lissom Latin rock/dream-pop fusion in ‘American Coffee’ to follow that Antenna-Like theme into the shimmering title tune. ‘Year Of Sky’ is another strangely occluded highlight of Sterolab-esque space-pop, while the cosmic roil of ‘Jupiter’ makes room for her boldest experimental urges and ‘The Future Will Not Be Owned’ ties it off with a signature, quizzically uplifting brand of pop brio.