Arts & Events

Zola Jesus’ indie-electronica brightens gray autumn days

If there was a musical response to Tacoma’s sunless winter weather, it would be gothic-pop princess Zola Jesus’ latest EP, “Conatus”.

Zola Jesus, also known as Nika Roza Danilova, was originally trained as an opera singer; however, these days her voice sounds like a fiercer version of Lykke Li…in mourning.

Danilova’s tracks drip with lovely string instrumentals meticulously laced into hearty synthetic beats. Despite the heavy emphasis on electronic noises and deep bass, this is not a dance record. Danilova has woven an aura of solemnity throughout the tracks and that provides a sense of cohesiveness.

As a musician, Danilova excels at expressing her emotions through the range of her vocals.

However, at times her lyrics sound slurred, which could be intentional, but the listener is left wanting more.

Because her songs are not mindless club tracks, there is a higher expectation for Danilova to express herself in a more articulate way.

Gloomy electronic music is effective at setting the mood, but lyrical clarity would only bring more depth to this album.

Danilova is far too strong of an artist to settle for ambiguity and in the future it will be a treat for listeners if she continues to challenge herself with more complex material.

Some of the album’s standout tracks are “Avalanche,” “Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake,” and “Hikikomori.”

Danilova reaches a nice balance between toe-tapping electronic arrangements and storytelling.

“Lick” is probably the most listener-friendly track, but be sure to give the other songs a listen.

Indie-Electronica can be daunting, but this album is worth a full spin or two, even if some of the songs are more difficult to connect with at first.

On the final track, “Night,” Danilova sings, “‘Cause in the end of the night when all we have is gone, yes in the end of the night when I can be with you.”  This is the tragic ending that the album has been moving towards.

Like the title “Conatus” implies, Zola Jesus continues to strive forward for, well, nothing.

Somberness, darkness, heartbreak; these are all themes that reign on the record, but do not be dissuaded from listening.

When the weather turns gray and cold, listening to heartfelt synthesized beats may be the best way to warm up.