On her sixth album, Blood Bitch, released in September via Sacred Bones, Jenny Hval continues in the rich tradition of artist representation of female menstruation, giving a beautiful and hair-raising voice to the historically tabooed aspect of the physical body. In doing so, the Norwegian Avant-Pop songwriter and her co-producer Lasse Marhaug blend sonic elements of 70s horror cinema – from pulsing synthesizers to haunting melodies and eerie silences – with a diverse vocal delivery ranging from angelic falsettos to off-kilter talk-singing, to whispers and spooky panting.
“Female Vampire” and “Conceptual Romance,” sonically-speaking are the standout, most pop-oriented pieces of the collection, while at the same time still clinging to the album’s concept lyrically. Much of the rest of Blood Bitch addresses the menstrual theme more directly. On “Untamed Region” Hval whispers of waking up from a dream to find blood on the bed and the urge to “dip my finger in it” it and mark everything in the room to give it life. On the aptly titled “Period Piece” she recounts “In the doctor’s office my speculum pulls me open / Spacing the space / Accidental sci-fi / Regulating my aperture, vagine savant.”
In a musical time when concept albums are more or less thing of the past, replaced largely by a single-release-formula to feed mainstream consumer’s endless hunger for content, Blood Bitch succeeds tremendously in both aural and thematic beauty. And it appears others would agree, as the album has been rated a B+ by Consequence of Sound, 4.5 out of 5 by Tiny Mix Tapes, and 8.3 out of 10 by Pitchfork.