Zola Jesus frontwoman Nika Roza Danilova is a goth in the sadwhite-girl sense as well as the creepy-European-cathedral sense. Stretching a baroque, husky Russian-American voice over tracks that cover up the disco in black crepe paper, the 22-year-old Wisconsin native comes on like Florence Welch doing hemlock shots. The second Zola Jesus disc could have spelunked into Brontë Sisters silliness, but its churning, creepy urgency proves hard to dismiss – the glassy, quaking high-hats on “Vessel” could back an Atlanta rapper, and on the ghoulishly boy-hungry “Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake,” Danilova sings, “And you say you don’t see the red in my eyes,” with a feral intensity no amount of Visine can cure.
Listen to “Vessel”:
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