These days there are a lot of bands “moving away from their chill-wave roots” or “straying from the hypnagogic path” – the implication being that the bug that has been infecting almost all genres over the past two years is slowly dying out. This is mostly the case for bands who got tagged with the term simply because they happened to surface when it was all the rage (virtually everyone from Memory Tapes to Washed Out), but also with some of the real champions of the genre. And Miss Ramona Gonzalez, one of the movement's first pillars, is next in line.
We've been following Nite Jewel for a while now, and there's always been something special about her. From 2009's analogue “Good Evening” to the marvellous EPs she's been delivering in recent times, Ramona has appeared to feel increasingly at ease - though she had never gone all out on any of her efforts. Rather, she chose to stay natural and give her music enough time to find its way. The good thing about that slow pace is that we've had time to see her grow, discreetly but courageously, and to discover how her technique has been developing. The bad thing is that some of us were eager to see her let her hair down already and do her thing on a big album. Well, now we can, with this “One Second Of Love”. It’s a delicious slice of modern pop which - because of all of the above - feels like a great reward; an album that is simultaneously a conclusion and a new beginning.
Because of its eclecticism and audaciousness, the album is reminiscent of another recent and notable super pop album, Twin Sister's “In Heaven”; as well as Destroyer's “Kaputt” for its classic and elegant sound. W ith the latter it also shares a timid progression towards the adult oriented rock that is now being vindicated not only by Bejar, but also by artists such as M83 and Bon Iver. Ramona's sound is, more or less, equally expansive - going in a thousand different directions - only much more playful. A revisionist exercise of smooth funk and chromium-plated synth-pop ballads, she shows nothing but respect to her languid, seductive sources. Roxy Music, Talk Talk, Stevie Wonder, Cocteau Twins, Eyeless In Gaza, Prefab Sprout and the silky sounds of Sade are some of the names that spring to mind upon listening to “One Second Of Love”.
Nite Jewel had already shown this eighties inclination on “It Goes Through Your Head” and “Am I Real?”, but now it sounds particularly dazzling because of the focused purism of her ways. It just takes one listen of the delicious title-track, or the R&B of “Autograph”, to know we're dealing with a new Ramona. A new Ramona who left her four-track past behind and entered the studio with her head held high and the sleeves of her cardigan rolled up. Once again accompanied by her husband Cole M. Greif-Neill (founder of the genius Samps and member of Ariel Pink, another AOR nut), she oozes a unique passion. She is no longer the shy girl who used to run away from the cameras, she is a pacific lioness dressed in a broad sound. As if she were walking some never-ending savannah towards new territories, Ramona reaches forks in her journey (“This Story”, a phenomenal start), moves parallel to the Dirty Projectors of “Stillness Is The Move” (“She’s Always Watching You”) and dares to cross huge distances (“Sister”, the dream-like closing track). On her new songs, something truly special lies beneath the surface, illuminating them with reflective flashes. She sounds extremely confident and free.