Monday, October 11th, 2010

Zola Jesus – Sea Talk

One of these people is Tray. BUT WHICH ONE?…


Asher Steinberg: So, this is what ‘goth-pop’ sounds like! Well, it bores me.

Martin Skidmore: A darkly operatic number, with miltary drum tattoos, moody keyboards and her nasal but ambitious vocals. It ends up as something you could just about conceive of Kate Bush doing with higher and sweeter sounds and more of a tune. I can imagine loving something she does in the future, but not this one.

Iain Mew: I’m finding it impossible to get much of a grip on this at all. Every time I go back to try to fix some firmer impressions of what’s going on, I get lost amidst the sheer scale of its swell and ache. I can’t tell you anything about details, and I’m never going to get close enough to feel any love, but it’s an impressive edifice.

Chuck Eddy: I have no rule against tired neo-goth schtick — I’ve played Judged By Twelve Carried By Six, by San Diego duo Blessure Grave, a bunch this year. But at least I detect an occasisonally viscous Killing Joke/Joy Division-style throb in their regurgitated bullshit. And lethargic Zola gets all the hype they don’t, maybe because she’s more amorphous and too pure to settle for hooks, or maybe because she was “trained as an opera singer from a young age,” and “applied to Julliard at 10 years old”. As usual, critics fall for the divinely inspired individual, even if she’s a snooze. (P.S.: Gave her EP to my longtime girl-goth fan spouse, who you’d think might be more open to it, to see if I might be missing anything. She didn’t hear anything in it, either.)

Michaelangelo Matos: Wow, there’s kind of an emotional quaver in her voice that prevents this from being a completely unlistenable trudge. That’s something, I guess.

John Seroff: A secret no one told me until I was out of my twenties and had already worn out my late-era Cure LPs: inscrutable, soup-thick, goth-army marching music eventually stops sounding interesting. Even when you’re sad. And especially when it sounds like your ex-ex-ex-girlfriend complaining about your inability to commit.

Mallory O’Donnell: Perhaps some people who’ve never listened to such as X-Mal Deutschland will be wetting themselves over this, but this is some pretty weak tea compared to real live goth. The vocal is firmly sub-Siouxsie, with some of her curious warble but nary a hint of her brio. And while I’ve heard more blatant “Atmosphere” rips, I’m pretty sure they were all recorded by New Order, who are allowed.

Alfred Soto: I can’t think of a moment when I’ve been nostalgic for Superstition-era Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Ian Mathers: I keep thinking that “Sea Talk” is by someone else, that I’ve heard it before, maybe years ago; which says less about the qualities of Nika Roza Danilova’s (literal and figurative) voice, and more about the way that “Sea Talk” feels like an unsettling dream. Don’t you feel like you’re forgetting something? Aren’t you afraid of what that might be?

Anthony Easton: This is about as hyper-bombastic and super-dramatic as her self-named messianic complex hints at.

Jer Fairall: The lo-fi stitching is visible and Nika Roza Danilova’s striking vocals are shrouded in a little too much murk to make the impression that they should, but the epic ambitions of this synth-goth-pop power ballad claw against their modest confines and emerge triumphant.

Josh Langhoff: The voice and the beat have the misfortune to remind me of “Be My Baby”, which only highlights the song’s inferiority to “Be My Baby”. We need tympani rolls leading into the choruses, folks! Momentum, power, more than two chords, recognizable emotion! The song tries reaching out for connection; Ms. Jesus admits she can’t be everything we want and asks a bunch of questions, but you get the sense she’ll go her own way regardless of the answers. Which is fine. I’ll just be over here listening to “Be My Baby” or reading Zola, I’ve been meaning to get to him.

Jonathan Bogart: The runtime, the incantatory vocals, and the questing, surging chords want this song to be epic, and no doubt for some people it is. But it doesn’t move, and it doesn’t vary, and it just goes on. Sure it’s epic: glaciers last for centuries.

4 Responses to “Zola Jesus – Sea Talk”

  1. Wish I had gotten to this one this weekend; it’s at least a [6] for me.

  2. Okay this song isn’t very good – but if anything about this artist seems interesting to you, check out ‘Night’ before the buzz disappears.

  3. Well, I suppose it’s obvious by now that I’m Tray.

  4. Getting mad because this song isn’t Goth, or properly Goth, or something (“Atmosphere” rip? Mallory, you know I love you, but I just don’t hear it) is Missing the Point. And I think the end of Jonathon’s blurb is part of why I like this!