Lost Girls

(Smalltown Supersound)



Anyone can feasibly write, record, and release music, but Jenny Hval is distinct because she should – because she’s compelled to. Such bulky archives (she’s near-enough released an album a year since her 2011 solo debut) suggest that if she didn’t write, record, and release music she would explode. Fellow Lost Girl Hårvard Volden is the same, and Selvutsletter, their second under the Lost Girls moniker, is the latest box of lucid pop experimentalism to slide off this perpetually whirring conveyor.

It’s also the optimal entry point into either of the Norwegian songwriters’ projects. Selvutsletter is an alluring, enveloping mixture of avant-garde intrigue (faux-folk singing, tone poems) packaged with the right amount of dancy pop pleasantry. You can hear formidable feminist experimentalists such as Björk, Laurie Anderson, and Kate Bush echo through Hval’s spectral lilts – there’s no doubt she’s in league with her predecessors – and Volden’s contributions are equally indispensable. He treats his guitar like it’s a synthesizer, underscoring Hval with atypical inversions and dense, swelling soundscapes that land between Reich and Eno.

Presumably, they counterbalance one another, pushing farther than the radio-ready conventions of last year’s Classic Objects, but nearer to home base than Hval’s vampire-themed concept album Blood Bitch. This is the medicinal sweet-spot, with room for the yodeling valleys of ‘World on Fire’, the off-kilter click-clacks of ‘Timed Intervals’, the funereal saxophone groans of ‘Ruins’, and the delicate sentimentality of ‘June 1996’. Selvutsletter is a record to sit with, to get lost in. The world looks a little different when you emerge.