The upcoming Zola Jesus album is sounding like an absolute beast. Since the late 2000s, Nika Roza Danilova’s project has gradually shifted from noisy lo-fi to industrial pop, and now three years since the release of her most orthodox-sounding release to date, Taiga, she seems like she’s finally reached a happy medium between her experimental and populist impulses.
The first evidence of this was “Exhumed,” the lead single from her sixth album (Okovi), which was shared about a month ago. A thrilling shapeshifter, it careens between big, gothic strings, faraway primal screams, a beat that sounds like a collaboration between Arca and Phil Collins, and choral, skyscraping lead vocals. Fitting all of this into under four minutes is a feat and a half, not to mention making something so simultaneously abrasive and catchy-- it feels like the exact sweet spot Zola Jesus has been aiming for over the past decade or so.
Then there’s “Soak,” which we just received today. This one’s less in-your-face wild than “Exhumed,” but what it lacks in eclectic arrangement, it makes up for in anthemic purity. Haunting, brooding, but also somehow uplifting, “Soak” sounds like Mezzanine-era Massive Attack replaced guest vocalist (and dream pop legend) Elizabeth Fraser with Florence Welch, opting for bombast rather than sweetness. Backed by a hollowed-out, slowed down dub beat, buzzing atmospherics, and reverberating bells, Danilova finds a setting for her pop instincts that doesn’t sterilize the industrial/goth leanings that define her Zola Jesus project.
Okovi comes out on September 8th, and after releasing Taiga on the larger electronic-leaning label Mute, it’s fitting that Zola Jesus is returning to here original home, Sacred Bones, for this one. Pre-order the album here.