Jenny Hval - High Alice

Song of the Day
Hosted by Kevin Cole
Today's Song of the Day, as chosen by Kevin Cole, host of The Afternoon Show on KEXP, is "High Alice" by Jenny Hval, from the 2019 album The Practice of Love on Sacred Bones Records.
photo by Lasse Marhuag
written by Janice Headley

Norwegian singer-songwriter Jenny Hval returned with her seventh album, The Practice of Love, last month. The LP was inspired by Austrian artist Valie Export’s 1985 film of the same name and finds Hval contemplating the concept of love. In a press release, she elaborates:

This all sounds very clichéd, like a standard greeting card expression. But for me, love, and the practice of love, has been deeply tied to the feeling of otherness. Love as a theme in art has been the domain of the canonized, big artists, and I have always seen myself as a minor character, a voice that speaks of other things. But in the last few years I have wanted to take a closer look at the practice of otherness, this fragile performance, and how it can express love, intimacy, empathy and desire. I have wanted to ask bigger, wider, kind of idiotic questions like: What is our job as a member of the human race? Do we have to accept this job, and if we don't, does the pressure to be normal ever stop?

On today's featured track, she tells her own fractured fairy tale take on Alice in Wonderland against a trip-hop beat. She continues in her press statement:

For a while, this song felt like my entire album. I had no idea what the rest of it would be, just a feeling like this song and the title, the two words "High Alice," would get me there. My guiding stars at the time were Clarice Lispector's The Hour of the Star and Kylie Minogue's "Confide In Me." Maybe High Alice is the narrator of this album. I don't know how I wrote it, it was automatic. But I found it really funny that I mentioned the sea three times. High Alice goes to all the places I have taught myself to avoid, like the four Big Themes: Love, death, life, the ocean. The ocean. The ocean.

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