Jenny Hval: Classic Objects (4AD) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, October 2nd, 2023  

Jenny Hval

Classic Objects


Mar 15, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

“Classic Objects,” the title track of Norwegian artist Jenny Hval’s latest record, starts with her recalling a painter in her first studio space, while faint, loose guitar strings hang in the background. “She used to attach/Her own hair onto her paintings,” Hval sings, using the memory as a jumping point to contemplate life and death, the purpose of art. Importantly, the key to the song, and the entire album, lies in the two lines: “I mean, life and art, or is it death?/Or maybe it’s just me?”

Classic Objects is an album of stories and meditations. Jenny Hval treats them like classic objects, ones that deserve care when handled. Yet these objects are far from fragile—bubbling synth pulses and rolling percussions evolve into climactic crescendos and back again. The heavy keys of “American Coffee” ground the song in a dramatic elegance—a spotlight shining on a one-woman show—as Hval ponders her childhood. Soon enough, the song transforms into one where Hval’s voice glides over stretched synth progressions. “Year of Sky,” the album’s centerpiece, glistens with electronic effects and slowly grows with heavier soundscapes and wrapping percussion. “Cemetery of Splendour” takes a similar approach, yet the sounds of the everyday—crickets, engines, people chattering—that close out the song confirm that Hval can find beauty everywhere.

Hval has said Classic Objects is a pop album, which is true—these songs’ evolutions belie the elements of pop underneath. Peppy keys drive the verses of “Year of Love” while Hval’s voice delivers a gliding, catchy melody through the chorus. The climax of “Year of Sky” rests on the melodic resolution building throughout, while the sweet, elegant single “Freedom” acts as a lullaby. And through her stories, Hval ensures that Classic Objects is also a political album. “Year of Love” sees Hval examine the staying power of marriage, recalling seeing a man propose to a woman at a show of hers. Single “Freedom” has Hval list wishes and wants of a better and different world. “I want to live in a democracy,” Jenny Hval sings on “Freedom.” “Somewhere where art is free.” It’s a perfect encapsulation of Hval’s songwriting approach and our moment writ large; one where so much is happening at once, that it’s impossible to not take a step back and stare in weary awe.

Album closer “The Revolution Will Not Be Owned” doubles as Hval’s strongest declaration: “And this song is regulated by copyright regulations/And dreaming doesn’t have copyright/I guess you could say, ‘The revolution will not be owned.’” Hval delivers this last line, over sweeping piano lines and rattling cymbals, in hushed confidence. Yes, Hval dreams of a place that’s yet to be, but Classic Objects is also her testament to keeping on trying, to come as close to creating it as possible. (

Author rating: 8/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 5/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.