“I’m a broken record, you have heard this before” goes the opening line to Nite Jewel’s second full-length LP One Second Of Love but, chances are, you won’t have heard anything quite like Ramona Gonzalez before. Sure, each fragment, each influence that makes its mark here is borrowed from elsewhere but the way the Californian singer pieces each bit together is quite unique.
Take the title track, a blend of industrial and glossy 80s pop, bristling with crystalline, crushed synths and Ramona’s honeyed voice. It’s a mix that’s fresh – bright and exciting without wiping out the shadowy atmospherics that are key to Nite Jewel’s sound.
In other parts of the album, Ramona ramps up the sass – like on ‘Autograph’. It’s St Vincent-meets-TLC brazenness, all cleverly layered sonics played down by pure pop attitude and dipping, alluring melodies as our heroine breezily purrs “I still got your autograph from the last time you left, oh/And I just can’t take it off, no.” Similarly on ‘She’s Always Watching You’, Ramona turns into an R&B diva, belting out lyrics about girls and love.
It’s not all buoyant and bubbly though. Closer ‘Clive’ is a poised, elegant piece of minimal pop; just Ramona and drawn out, reverb-drenched synth chords. It’s a hypnotic, almost heartbreaking end to the album. Earlier track ‘Unearthly Delights’ lives up to its title, unfolding as a deliciously haunting track that’s simple and sparse, even by Ramona’s scant standards. ‘Memory Man’ finds her questioning the world, asking “Could it be I’m losing touch” over teetering, muted pop that feels as if it – and she – could topple and collapse at any minute.
One Second Of Love is a beguiling second album – equal parts as appropriate for taking over the dance floor as it is for cosying up to in the dark, lonely corners of the night. In Ramona Gonzalez and her Nite Jewel project, we have a true star in waiting, one who’s cool, sassy and – when it comes to making vital pop records – always getting it right.
Release date: Out now