My love for Zola Jesus is on the same level as my love for Morrissey and Velvet Underground. It’s that grand. You know when you hear an album and you think, “There’s no way they can actually make anything as beautiful as this.” I thought that about Zola Jesus. Could she make anything as moving and ethereal as Stridulum II? Could it take over your soul in such a way? The answer is, thankfully, YES. She’s gone and bloody done it.
When I first heard The Spoils and her work with LA Vampires, I knew I had found a singer that I would just adore forever (if forever was to exist) and that I could relate to every word sung. Then I heard Stridulum II and nearly gave myself third degree burns. I bought the album and played it whilst cooking. Not a wise move. All my attention was on the music, and as a result- I nearly burnt my arm. It’s actually typical behaviour from me- music gets all my attention, not else much does.
So, let’s get into Conatus shall we?
The album opens up with an instrumental track. It has a clanking sound which makes you think of all the cogs turning in your mind just waiting for something to happen. It is going to happen; it’s going to happen as you listen to this record.
When I heard Vessel, I had to keep playing it over and over. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted her album straight away, but hey- good things come to those who wait. The wait is over, and this glorious work of art is finally here.
One song that I immediately grew attached to within first listen is Ixode. Ixodes are a genus of ticks- no idea if this is what Nika had in mind when she made this track, but hey. I love the song because it is virtually an instrumental that has this grand build up to it that just shoots through your soul, you feel so untouchable. That’s why I love her music so much. Regardless how good or bad you feel; Nika makes music that makes you feel untouchable, and sometimes as people, we need that feeling.
Seekir is about doing something wrong, and you know it is wrong- but you do it anyway. Seems like a fitting song for me. It’s just so perfect. Listen, if you feel like life is being unkind to you recently and that the Universe is not dealing you a fair hand, please listen to this album. I know we all go through some bad stuff, and we use different things to just get by- but please, listen to this record. It’ll do something to your mind, body and soul which will cause you to carry on.
In Your Nature is wondrous, I listen to it and just feel like nothing matters. In the grand scheme of things, I guess nothing does. “If it’s in your nature, you will never win.” I constantly feel like this, that I’ll never win/get what I want, and to hear this just makes me realise you know what, maybe this is how it has to be, you know? Try to change, but what for? No one is going to pat you on the back for being good.
Lick The Palm Of The Burning Handshake is probably the least tense track on the album, it is entirely stripped back and this adds an essence of vulnerability to it. I know you get that feeling a lot from her music, but this track just oozes it. I have no idea if that’s what Nika intended but that’s what I take from this track. It is powerful and beautiful.
Shivers makes me want to pack all my stuff up and leave everything here behind. I feel that a lot, so obviously I don’t need a song to make me feel like that, but this song just adds something to it. It leaves you feeling less alone. This album does have quite a desolate feel to it, but at the same time it really does comfort you. A lot label her music as Gothic, that’s fine and all- but it is so much more than that. It is so pure and tranquil. You must remember that she is only 21 years old. Skin amazes me; I love how she makes you want to escape who you are and become all you want to be- rather than what people make you out to be. People do that a lot don’t they, they make you out to be something you’re not all the time. Sometimes you just want to yell at them that, who they think you are, is not who you are. You are so much more, but you cannot show them because they don’t believe in you. I get that a lot. Skin is a comfort blanket, the way she sings “I’ve had enough.” Well it just proves that these are the most powerful three words one could ever hear. Skin is most definitely going on repeat for a while. It makes you want to close your eyes and shut off the world. We all need to do that sometimes, just let something take you some place else.
The album ends with Collapse which will more than likely leave you feeling the same way Skin did. A fragile lump of bones just waiting to go towards something better. It has such innocence and honesty to it, “It hurts to let you in.” Nika has this genius way of wording these feelings in such a simple way, but at the same time just leaves you in utter awe of how she does it. She does it without using grand words or creating unnecessary pretentious imagery. The way she makes the music sound as delicate as her words is so wonderful, and not many can do it in the way she does- and thankfully so. It makes you treasure her even more than you already did.
What I love about Nika is what she makes me feel when I listen to her music. I love the bands I love for certain reasons. My reasons for loving Nika’s music are that it takes me to a place in my mind I probably try to shut off most of the time. It exposes my mind and soul to all I should fear, but when I hear her music- I feel it, and I am immediately rid of this fear. That is how powerful it is. I write personally, and I know it isn’t what you want to hear. You want to hear if this album is any good or not, well the fact that it can move me and make me write like this proves that it is undoubtedly a masterpiece and one of the best albums to have come out this year. Her music is just stunning and perfect. Her voice is so distinctive and enthralling. Something takes over you when you listen to her music, don’t fight it. Go with it, always. Just go with it.