Review : Nite Jewel - One Second of Love
GuardianLike last year's rising underground star Zola Jesus, Nite Jewel (Ramona Gonzalez) is a philosophy graduate making arresting electronic pop. Unlike Zola Jesus, Gonzalez eschews the dark side for something glossier. On One Second of Love, her second album, the 80s funk-pop of the title track meets the warped R&B of "She's Always Watching You" in the psychedelic circles of Ariel Pink, a bandmate of her husband's. This swirl of influences shouldn't work, but often does, and Gonzalez's voice suits these aerated exercises. Over the course of an album, though, she tries out warped folk ("Unearthly Delights") and dubstep ("No I Don't"), a versatility that hasn't quite settled into a cogent direction....full text
PitchforkIt makes a certain kind of sense that Nite Jewel's music sprung from the underbelly of L.A. Despite its unpolished aesthetic and Ramona Gonzalez's professed aversion to more conventional ideas about glamour (there she is, spewing neon vomit at a swanky photo shoot in the clip for "Artificial Intelligence"), her music exists in the realm of gauzy fantasy: it is a dream world made reality. Up until now, all of the slinky, lo-fi electro-pop that Gonzalez has made as Nite Jewel has been molten and surreal, conjuring Dali paintings with drum machines and keyboards melting in place of clocks. Some of the moments on her 2009 debut Good Evening and her 2010 Am I Real? EP shone brighter than others, but they all crafted an atmosphere of mystery: it was nearly impossible to glean any specifics about the lyrics, not to mention the persona of the singer uttering them. Her latest LP, One Second of Love prompts a question that most artists who've carefully cultivated a sense of enigma have got to confront sooner or later (just ask the Weeknd or Lana Del Rey): what happens when mystery evaporates?
In the context of her catalogue, then, the cover of One Second of Love feel like the Nite Jewel equivalent of Meet the Beatles. The image-- like the music it represents-- is forthright and clear; you immediately get the idea that this record is her coming out party. And from the opening moments of "This Story", there's an obvious change in her sound: with its lucid, minimalist production, One Second of Love is the first Nite Jewel record that sounds like it takes place in the waking world. It's also an attempt to bring the poppier impulses to the forefront of her songs. The press release cites plenty of avant-garde influences, but also-- perhaps most importantly-- the 1990s R&B-pop of TLC and SWV....full text
MishkanycOne of my least favorite moments (like, ever) is watching a female artist be compared only to other female artists, especially if the two have little to do with each other beyond some tenuous tie to the same fan group. Iím telling you this because Iím about to compare my beloved Nite Jewel to Zola Jesus, and it creeps me out to do it sans caveat. Itís not that their music is similar (itís not), or that theyíre both girls (who cares), or that they have some overlapping fans (whatever) ó itís that their trajectory, even stripped of context, shares a few mile-markers. Weíre seeing Nite Jewel develop the way we saw Zola Jesus develop. The haze lifting. The tone going all sharp and crystalline. The focus more exacting, precise, as if everything fell into place one morning in the studio, all these songs finally becoming what theyíve always wanted to be. Lots of artists experience this, but itís the rare pleasure to hear it unfold these days, when everything is go, go, go, now, now ó and itís an even rarer pleasure to see the transition come off with such unbelievable finesse.
Not that One Second of Love is an entirely new Nite Jewel. Itís very much the Nite Jewel that always was ó Ramona Gonzalez is just at the absolute pinnacle of her prowess. This second full-length is still filled with the soulful, lurching pop vibe we loved on Good Evening and the Am I Real? EP, the lot of it coated with arpeggiated bass and clattering 808 drums ó that blurry italo-inspired thing Italians Do It Better did, you know, best ó but itís come into blade-sharp focus here. The bass pops harder, the hooks go stronger, Gonzalezís voice roils to the fore, this echoing amalgamation of desperation and desire. These songs, especially tracks like ďThis StoryĒ and ďMemory ManĒ, arenít for the feint of heart; the instant pleasure thing happens, for sure, but beneath that immediate catchiness, the x-factor that makes you love a song before you even know why, is a whole pile of unsettling emotion. By stripping back any extraneous elements, focusing on the most shimmering structures, the most danceable beats, those intense and bittersweet atmospheric builds, Gonzalez allows the soul behind these songs, warts and all, to stand proudly on display. Like Zola Jesus did with the suddenly precise Valusia, Gonzalez is using One Second of Love to clear the path for who she wants to be, where she wants to go, where she is now. Sheís burning the forest in front of her, unashamed and unapologetic. And thankfully, we get to witness the fire from ember to ash....full text
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