From darkness to pop: Even though Pocahaunted and Grouper used to be reference points for Zola Jesus, Nika Roza Danilove has transformed towards the light. On »Taiga«, her fifth record, tracks like »Dangerous Days« and »Hunger«, are buried knee-deep in the sound of the eighties. Last year’s »Versions« had already suggested that this was to be the next step, but now Kate Bush and the Cocteau Twins are serving as this record’s patron saints, while Zola Jesus is completing her transformation. »It’s a dark, dark day and it’s dangerous to go and listen what they say«. The darkness doesn’t come from the heart, anymore, but knocks on the door from the outside. It’s where the others are. And still, »Taiga« is driven by a kind of melancholia, surfacing in tracks like »Lawless«. Here, the chorus is going for the one great gesture in a way that only Elisabeth Fraser has managed to deliver until now. »Taiga« knows how to avoid tackiness or embarrassment and keeps resembling what it wants to be. Of course, the production helps a great deal, carefully placing a few wind instruments in »Hollow« while always keeping the rhythm and Zola Jesus’s vocals in the foreground. In addition, the synthesizers develop a more and more organic sound with every track, creating warmth where there should be coldness, instead. Sometimes, however, like on »It’s Not Over«, the darkness is having another peak over the rim. For a short moment, the uneasiness is back, but then another one of Zola Jesus’s choruses enfolds, rising high and embracing the whole track. Zola Jesus’ metamorphosis has brought along new aspects, but the 25-years-old singer has kept all the previous influences in the heart of her sound. It’s hardly to be heard, but it’s always there, remaining under the surface. Everything is changing. And for Zola Jesus’s sound, there can’t be a better way of fighting its way into the light.