Named after a warped Italian 70’s film, Stridulum II by Zola Jesus has an equally warped and disturbing cover – a figure covered in an oily black graphic that looks like something out of a horror film. Zola Jesus (real name Nika Rosa Danilova) has been classified by a number of writers as goth and certainly the cover image does nothing to dispel the label. Yet if you define goth as being fundamentally about internal angst and darkness then the majority of Stridulum II doesn’t fall into that category. Even although the musical backdrop may be full of ominous brooding orchestral synths, the sounds of goblins whispering in the cupboard and heart-heavy drums, Nika’s Siouxsie Sioux styled operatics often flow with warmth and love. “When you’re lost, know I’ll be around,” she intones on Trust Me, whilst on I Can’t Stand (To See You This Way) she offers the hope of “It’s not easy to fall in love, but if you’re lucky you might find someone.” There’s a lot of positive spirit lurking there.
Stridulum II is on first listen a gloomy funeral full of slow building menace, but underneath that there’s a doomsday pop record full of emotion, vulnerability and accessible songs.
Zola Jesus - I Can't Stand by souterraintransmissions