mp3: Zola Jesus "Night"
All happy goth girls resemble one another; every unhappy goth girl is unhappy in her own way.
The spunky goth girls are really in it for the fashion or the attention or the drugs. At some point, usually before moving off to college, they let their brown roots reclaim their matte black dye jobs. But the genuinely sullen goth girls are uniquely upset because they spend their time at home listening to The Swans or Diamanda Galas. They each have a distinct reason why Kate Bush or Ian Curtis or, if they're really scary, Boyd Rice has spoken to them.
For Madison's Zola Jesus, 19-year-old Nika Roza Danilova, it had everything to do with doubt and anxiety. She had to give up opera training because of her crippling misgivings about herself. Thankfully she's found another outlet because Zola Jesus' newest EP, Stridulum, is a jet black diamond of a record. Opener "Night" is a thumping piece of dark romance: "The night when I can be with you." It's clear after "Night" that Danilova has shed the noisy goth of her previous album, The Spoils. Stridulum is as polished as obsidian: the thwak of the drum machines is cold and brutal, the chilly synth tones sound like a bitter wind. The EP reaches its highlight with "Manifest Destiny." It's only here that Danilova really shows off her incredible pipes. Amid grating noise and controlled feedback, she worries that since she doesn't have a reason to go home she has to be with her lover. When the chorus breaks free of the gloomy industrial thrum of the verses, Danilova's husky voice soars. As the stunning conclusion to Stridulum, "Manifest Destiny" hopefully points the way out of the cheerless nagging of personal doubt for Danilova.
Stridulum is available now on Sacred Bones Records.