Nika Roza Danilova, who has been dealing in dark, brooding electronic pop for several years under the name Zola Jesus, has just released a new album, Conatus, and it has been propelling her onto the tongues of tastemakers all over the world for the past few weeks. Full of quivering synths and cavernous reverb, the album is minor key with a capital M, anchored by Danilova’s deep voice and haunting lyrics.
There are plenty of reference points that can be traced to the goth lineage of the 1980s (Siouxsie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode, OMD), but with Conatus, Zola Jesus has fully come into her own. It’s a powerful piece of work, and live, these songs can thump like dancefloor jams without betraying the subtle production that went into the recording. If Lady Gaga is the current queen of pseudo-baroque electro pop, Zola Jesus is the usurper in the wings.