Operatic wailing and sinister synths: for the love of Siouxsie Sioux, there's a lot of it going around. Zola Jesus's follow-up to 2010's Stridulum II doesn't scrub off the heavy eyeliner – it features a song called Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake – but it does reflect Nika Danilova's newly honed ear for a soaring moment, particularly on Avalanche, which crashes in after a short, misleadingly ambient and experimental opener. Conatus is more fully formed than its predecessor: Shivers, In Your Nature and Vessel emerge as confidently weird, strident goth-pop. Danilova's juggernaut vocals can feel relentless, but considering Zola Jesus is a deliberately poised and arty affair, a little over-reaching melodrama is hardly a surprise.
Rebecca Nicholson is a columnist for the Observer and the Guardian