With a stage name like Zola Jesus, you wouldn't expect sweetness and light from classically trained singer/songwriter Nika Roza Danilova, and you don't get it.
On her new EP, Stridulum, the Wisconsin native shrugs off her previous lo-fi aesthetic to embrace a darkly lustrous sound. The albums cover, which pictures Danilova with black goo pouring down her face, is a good representation of what lies beneath: six dark-as-night songs that marry the ethereal, synthy atmospherics of This Mortal Coil with a pitch-perfect Siouxsie Siouxesque howl. But Stridulum is more than just a love letter to the 80s–Danilova can really sing, and her songs are both frighteningly intense and impressively melodic. From the nightmarish whispers of "Night" to the passionate crescendo of "I Can't Stand," this is goth with a shiny pop heart, a David Lynch movie in musical form.