Don’t be afraid, it’s only blood: Jenny Hval – Period Piece

“Don’t be afraid, it’s only blood,” says Norwegian artist Jenny Hval in an interlude on her new album Blood Bitch – surely the only concept album touching on menstruation and female vampires this year.

The line closes the track Period Piece, the most lyrically visceral song on the album, based on an abstract recollection of a doctor’s examination room “with IKEA-white walls”.

Hval’s sixth album tackles taboos through invoking 70s horror cinema and gothic passages, but it has some of the most delicate, elegant avant-pop you’ll hear this year. One exception is The Plague, which has Hval trapped in a surreal Giallo horror nightmare, with its synth dischord, incantations and voices trapped behind portals.

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Recent single Period Piece is one of the album’s stand-outs – which sounds like a soft-focus folding of Nine Inch Nails’ Closer and the melancholy gothic pop of Tropic of CancerThe song also has Hval’s most beautiful vocal, with hymnal multitracking and the reverb set to cathedral mode.

“What I do is the very big in-between,” Hval says in an interview in Wire this month. “It’s not pop enough to be considered pop music. I’m not experimental enough to be a major artist invited to a major improv festival.”

That “big in-between” is what drives pop music forward though, and with albums like Blood Bitch, Jenny Hval won’t be slipping through any cracks.

Blood Bitch is out now on Sacred Bones Records