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Single Review: Zola Jesus – Dangerous Days

Photo: Julia Comita

Zola Jesus is known for her dark pop. Her earlier records are enough to make Lana Del Rey sound chirpy and Marilyn Manson seem like child’s play. She cut straight to the core with her  atmospheric, vicious electro – lyrics such as the striking ‘I am not alone in this tower’ and ‘in the end of the night when all we have is gone’ stick it straight to the subconscious. No zombies or vampires necessary – Zola Jesus works in the subtle, the suggested implications that drive fear in long after the final synth has died out. Anyway, she’s cheered up a bit now so you can sleep easy tonight.

‘Dangerous Days’ is by no means a One Direction summer anthem, but it certainly knocks a few moments of euphoria into it’s four and a half minutes. Subtly, ofcourse, as is Nika’s way. What she has still managed to capture is a beauty she is renowned for- in the longing way she sings ‘dark dark day’ in the refrain, to the lift in the chorus, it has plenty of gorgeous moments that prove she is more than capable of venturing outside of her comfort zone.

Nika’s enunciation is also vastly improved from her previous works. On the grim, haunting tunes, her almost-wordless wails were part of the act, whilst ‘Dangerous Days’ feels a lot more welcoming. Understanding what she is actually saying goes some way in inviting in the curious ears that may have taken a step back upon listening to ‘Stridulum’ and ‘Conatus’. In fact, Nika has stated that she reckons the upcoming record feels like her ‘true debut’ so perhaps it’s her zest for the new material that is likely to lure in the undecided. You can feel a genuine wave of excitement on the song – the buzz of a venture into something new.

All in all, this review errs slightly into the risk of you expecting an upbeat David Guetta tune for a comeback. It isn’t that, but it is a stark contrast to what you might have expected. ‘Dangerous Days’ has the charm and essence of the Zola Jesus we adore, but with an added vibrance. Whilst Nika’s vocals retain that bottomless depth of both emotion and tone, it works as a stunning antithesis to the thumping beats underlining the main hook. To say that the track is ‘more commercial’ or ‘more accessible’ feels like a discredit to the song. Those factors genuinely feel like collateral damage to Nika’s creative force. It’s more instant and catchy than most singles before it and the synths actually begin to show a light at the end of the pitch black tunnel she’d been treading, yet, at the same time, it feels like a natural growth from her previous works. Not a leap too far, nor a foray into the predictable – ‘Dangerous Days’ suggests that it’s mothering record ‘Taiga’ is the perfect next step for Zola Jesus whilst simultaneously hinting that our favourite underground chanteuse may not be much of a secret any longer.

Psst, you can get a free download of ‘Dangerous Days’ right here. FREE!

Photo: Julia Comita
Words: Simon McMurdo

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