A few years ago Jenny Hval witnessed a proposal happening while she was performing. It was so affecting that she actually wrote a song about it, which she released today, called “Year of Love.” Hval’s experience witnessing this performance of commitment didn’t inspire romantic or excited feelings. Instead, it elicited questions about how her art impacts others, in addition to her own private choices that live alongside conflicting feelings.
“For me, this experience was very troubling,” Hval said in a press statement. “It confronted me with the fact that I am also married. What does that detail from my private life say about me as an artist? ‘Year of Love’ asks, who am I as an artist? Do my private actions betray my work and voice?”
“Year of Love” is a thin, upbeat single that finds Hval reflecting on her marriage and that concert proposal. In the lyrics, she convinces herself that marriage is simply for practical reasons. “I truly believed that a contract was further from the institution than the industrial happiness complex,” she sings. Later, she reflects on the proposal that altered the meaning of the song she was performing and how, whether she likes it or not, her voice paved the way for these two lovers to intertwine their lives contractually. “Year of Love” is further proof that Hval, with her silvery vocals, can affectingly weld together her personal experience and heavy institutional jargon while highlighting their dissonant relationship.
The single, which is the second song to be released from her forthcoming album Classic Objects (her first studio album on 4AD), is accompanied with a video directed by Hval, Jenny Berger Myhre, and Annie Bielski. In a statement regarding the visual, they commented: “A sense of loss and joy intertwines in a world of disconnected rooms. The artist inhabits these rooms. She is frozen in time, space, and mid-vowel. She is aware of her immediate surroundings. She is aware that there is more beyond what she can see. A version of her exists in a compressed, compromised, and objectified state. She is sitting in a room, in a house, in a neighborhood, in the art industry.”
Check out “Year of Love” below, and pre-order Classic Objects here.