To call Taiga, the latest album from Nika Roza Danilova (aka Zola Jesus), a pop record would be equal parts accurate and misleading. After recording three excellent albums that had critics comparing the Madison, WI songwriter to dark wave chanteuses Bat for Lashes and Chelsea Wolf, Danilova strives for something more inimitable and renewed on her fourth album of original material. The resulting LP, the 11-track Taiga, partly fails to live up to this prototype as Zola Jesus mostly trades in one used genre for another.
Despite the fact that Danilova often stretches out her voice, attempting to mimic Billboard-friendly artists like Charlie XCX and Banks (and at times, Rihanna), co-producer Dean Hurley (David Lynch, Dirty Beaches), helps give songs like "Taiga," "Lawless" and "Long Way Down" a hearty dose of digital edge and substance. For an ambitious release that obviously reaches for such lofty heights, Taiga is peculiarly light on hooks and personality, forcing Danilova to fill many of those gaps in with glittering aural cosmetics. (Mute)