Rewind Review: Zola Jesus – Taiga (2014)

Zola Jesus’ music is difficult to classify. It’s not quite electro, not quite shoegaze, not quite diva, and not quite goth. Yet it is somehow all of these things. Zola Jesus, has one of the most haunting voices in music, and her album, Taiga, and is a fine addition to her already impressive catalogue.

The title track opener is a spooky electro song with drum and bass beats that dissolve into frightening horns. “Dangerous Days” could be a dance club hit if she wanted. It could also be your favorite new song about relationships. “Dust” sounds like a long-lost Yaz track with its tick-tock electric beats and her lovely voice creeping through it like fog rolling along a beach. Ms. Jesus, in case you’re reading this, I’ll sign a petition to hear you cover Yaz’s “Situation.”

“Hunger” is a hot song about hot sex that I’m sure tore up dance clubs in various remixes in 2014. “Go (Blank Sea)” is a swirling wave of sound that hits you over and over again (in a good way) with Zola Jesus’ powerful vocals, which are sometimes laced with reverb to make them even bigger, industrial beats, and angelic synths. It’s one of the best cuts on the record. “Ego” and “Lawless” highlight her vocals well, especially “Lawless,” which mixes epic synths with hip-hop beats and a bit of a tough girl attitude behind her vocals.

“Nail” has the gloomy yet beautiful feel that many Zola Jesus fans love in her work. “Long Way Down” has probably the biggest electro beats on the record (and the most reverb), and I’m sure is another excellent remixed dance track. “Hollow” is another solid entry, and the closer is the cheekily named “It’s Not Over.” It’s a big-voiced track about big love with a slow build and a glorious ending.

The main attraction to any Zola Jesus record is her phenomenal voice. The electro beats and goth touches help, but her voice can be soothing and haunting at the same time. She needs to sing the theme to the next Bond film, and the next ten Bond films if you ask me. If you enjoy a lovely female voice, you need to hear her.

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Nik Havert

I've been a music fan since my parents gave me a record player for Christmas when I was still in grade school. The first record I remember owning was "Sesame Street Disco." I've been a professional writer since 2004, but writing long before that. My first published work was in a middle school literary magazine and was a story about a zoo in which the animals could talk.

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