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Jenny Hval, 'Year of Love'

While self-aware musings about corporate exploitation and the futility of "wellness" bubbled up last year in the music of Top 40 artists like Lorde and Olivia Rodrigo, no musician has yet to dissect the feminine body's currency and pliancy under capitalism quite like Jenny Hval. Across her avant-garde pop music, the Norwegian artist has smartly deconstructed concepts including the societal aims of "self-care" and the vampire as a vehicle of desire, but always with a playful, seductive rigor.

On her new song "Year of Love," Hval deconstructs herself, a married woman, in the midst of shakily assimilating into what she describes as a "normcore institution." "In the year of love I signed a deal with the patriarchy," Hval sings over surprisingly jazzy, upbeat organ and plucky guitar, zooming out to frame her nuptials as a production in which she's merely a stagehand. But by the song's end those cheery, steady instrumentals build and blur together with intensity, a reminder that even the most controlled performances can belie a deeper turmoil.

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Hazel Cills
Hazel Cills is an editor at NPR Music, where she edits breaking music news, reviews, essays and interviews. Before coming to NPR in 2021, Hazel was a culture reporter at Jezebel, where she wrote about music and popular culture. She was also a writer for MTV News and a founding staff writer for the teen publication Rookie magazine.