Norwegian Jenny Hval makes experimental music made up of gentle, often ethereal, synths and uncompromising lyrics focusing on sex, gender, aging, religion, and other deep personal subjects (the word “cunt” is startlingly used on multiple tracks). This combination of the otherworldly and fully human creates an unsettling, fascinating whole. Apocalypse, girl, Hval’s third release under her own name, she previously recorded as Rockettothesky and along with Håvard Volden as Nude on Sand, is her best work to date. In fact, much of Apocalypse, girl merges all the above topics into one massive exploration of the female condition. This is not music for idle listening, but requires time and focus. That time and focus are rewarded, however, with one of the most lyrically interesting albums of the year thus far.
Fans of everyone from My Bloody Valentine to Beach House to Vivian Girls will find a lot to love in No Joy’s shoegazey, noise pop sounds. Based in Montreal, although band member Jasamine White-Gluz relocated there from LA when the band formed, More Faithful is No Joy’s third full length, and expands the band’s sound through increased instrumentation, but otherwise maintains its dreamy feel. Ordinarily, shoegaze is a genre requiring a dark, brooding atmosphere to fully appreciate the music. No Joy, however, allow enough light into their guitars and vocals that More Faithful is a perfect accompaniment for a summer’s evening.
A collaboration between Scottish indie rockers Franz Ferdinand and California new wave pop band Sparks is not something the world would ever expect. Yet “Piss Off” dates all the way back to 2004 when Sparks sent the track to Franz Ferdinand and the bands started talking about working together. Nothing further happened until recently, however, but now FFS is a real band with a self titled album made up of dancey post punk that doesn’t wow the listener with artistry, but is damn fun. In fact, when the album is a true collaboration, FFS feels a lot like a Hot Chip album (if Hot Chip replaced most of their synths with guitars and Alexis Taylor sung in a deeper voice, but still). At times, however, FFS is more Franz Ferdinand than FFS (interestingly one of these times is on “Collaborations Don’t Work”), and those tracks are much less interesting.
Also out today: Prinzhorn Dance School – Home Economics and Uniform – Perfect World.
An author and editor at MiG, Craig lives in Minnesota with his wife and son and is an attorney in his real life. Once upon a time Craig played the trumpet and spent four years in the Hawkeye Marching Band and pep band. These days Craig finds himself most often listening to experimental rock, hip hop, and post punk, but you can see everything he's listening to at: www.last.fm/user/cafreema Craig is not ashamed to admit the first concert he ever attended was New Kids on the Block.
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