Jenny Hval’s Innocence Is Kinky is one of the strangest pop records released this year, and perhaps one of the most slept-on. You’d think that starting your record by whispering, “That night, I watch people fucking on my computer,” might turn a few heads? In places, her sound seems to fit alongside the immaculate but off-kilter melodies of American artists like Julianna Barwick or Julia Holter. But her music is just as likely to disrupt itself with jagged bursts of electric guitar as it is to settle into some uncanny, angelic coo. That it was recorded with the help of John Parish, best known as P.J. Harvey’s long-time band member and producer, makes a perfect sort of sense.
Tonight, the Oslo-based songwriter and her band perform their first live show in New York City at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge. Tomorrow, Brooklyn gets its turn when they play Glasslands in Williamsburg. We talked to Hval as she prepped for the much-anticipated U.S. dates, finding time to rehearse in a schedule filled with conceptual sound installations and experimental choir projects. She fretted over the expectations of American audiences, explained how her love of the spoken voice influenced the choices she made on her record, and made a very important point about the danger nostalgia poses to modern art.