Norwegian artist Jenny Hval released a new song, “Sabbath,” which is the second single from her upcoming studio album, Apocalypse, girl. Hval’s new album is to be released on June 9th, 2015, via Sacred Bones Records.
“Sabbath” opens with a distorted guitar line that immediately sets an atmospheric tone to the song. Then, a heavily looped snare drum comes in as Hval begins to speak the opening lyrics. Just when listeners begin to think that this song is going to be a spoken-word piece, Hval transitions into singing. Through the remainder of the track, Hval alternates between the speak-singing style she employed in the opening lines and singing in a clear soaring soprano. The parts that are sung have an ethereal quality, but the spoken parts are set up in a minimalistic way that draws immediate attention to what Hval is saying.
At first listen, it is a bit hard to glean the precise meaning of this track, but it soon becomes clear that she is speaking about sexuality, relationships, and one’s relationship with – in this case – her body. In painting a broader picture, her lyrics, “It would be easy to think about submission, but I don’t think it’s about submission, it’s about holding and being held,” could be taken one of two ways. The first interpretation is that Hval is speaking about the nature of relationships. And, a second interpretation is that she’s discussing that feeling of being uncomfortable in your own skin, which is a common and highly relatable situation for most people at some point in life.
What inspired “Sabbath”, and what is the actual meaning behind this new song?
In a press release, Hval discussed “Sabbath”, saying:
“I think I’ve been writing this song since about 1986. Because when I was really young, I had a dream that my vagina had braces. For a long time, it (‘Sabbath’) was a monologue with a heavy drum loop and I had no idea what it was or why. It was just a galloping urge to say something. And then the chorus appeared. It’s like a mother; it just wants you to be happy. I really wanted to create something soft & loving. And I think it’s really catchy. Which is also very mothering, a mother catches you . . . I watched the film Daisies (Czechoslovak New Wave CLASSIC), while we were recording the album, and now when I think of ‘Sabbath’ I think of the two main characters in that film. Daisies is hyper surreal and an extraordinary mix of politics and desire . . . I open with saying ‘I dream I’m a boy,’ but the song is very much about girls. Girls playing, dreaming, singing, transforming. Girls speaking to and for everyone.”
Check it out, below.