Friday, October 1, 2010

Zola Jesus - Stridulum: Hope and Reassurance in a Gothic Disguise - 2010

I must admit that upon first listening to this album I had written it off as pleasant yet generic goth revivalism. When I began to truly delve into it I realized I was sorely mistaken.

The ethereal atmospheric keyboard drones and plodding sequenced drums conjure the darkest and most introspective side of the 80's a la Faith or Pornography. And the addition of classic Siouxie-esque vocals visualize a truly impressive solo gothic resurgence project. But the lyrics are the genuine weapon here.

21 year old classically trained vocalist Nika Roza Danilova (also LA Vampires, Former Ghosts)is breathtaking. Yes, The Siouxie comparisons are valid but these lyrics are much more relative to the majority of us. Banshees lyrics were light-hearted yet magical, surreal and sometimes metaphysical. Nika doesn't bother impressing you with her intellect. She heads straight to the heart of pain, insecurity, broken relationships and lost love. Though simple, these lyrics are honest and stunningly delivered.

The crucial factor here is that though she takes her listeners into the depths of sadness and loneliness, hope is always presented. A very mature emotional positivity resides in this young woman. Take the lyrics of "I Can't Stand" for example:

It's not easy to fall in love
But if you're lucky you just might find someone
So don't let it get you down
Cause in the end, you're only one

I can't stand to see you this way
It's gonna be alright

It's not easy to let it all go
But once in a while it's good for your soul
So don't let it get you down
Cause in the end, you're on your own

I can't stand to see you this way
It's gonna be alright...

Austere, I know, but when she combines haunting synth, rapturous vocals and a drum track that would make Jonathan Kane proud, I believe her, I'm wholeheartedly convinced.

Get It Here

Or: Stridulum

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