The influence of 80s pop music seems to be here to stay. Carly Rae Jepsen, The 1975, and Shura have borrowed synthetics from the glistening pop of that era and made some of the best records of the last few years. You can go back over the last 10-15 years and see the 80s was inspiration to some of the most consistent artists (Robyn, Annie, Goldfrapp).
Ronika’s first record, Selectadisc, was a love letter to the 80s with its blend of late-80s dance and early-80s synth pop, with hints of Italo disco and Madonna (lots of Madonna). Some of those ingredients appear on Ronika’s second record Lose My Cool. She’s also delved further into 90s and 00s R&B and electro pop. These influences have helped form a record that isn’t just leagues ahead of her very fine debut: it’s very close to perfect.
The two singles preceding the release of Lose My Cool reflect two sides of this stunning record. There are instant pop thrills and there are the slow burners that reveal themselves over time. The opener and lead single, ‘Principle’, is the former. It has the same exuberance that made Selectadisc such a success. Its squelching 80s synths and effortless summertime grooves are easy to fall in love with.
On the second single, the incredible, ‘Dissolve’, Ronika sounds like Alison Goldfrapp as she sensually sings, “everything dissolves as I exhale”. It’s a hypnotising slow jam that leads with crisp, arpeggiated synths before a wash of gorgeous backing vocals appear on the chorus. It wouldn’t sound out of place on KING’s 2016 blissed-out masterpiece, We Are King. ‘Dissolve’ is one of the songs that shows Lose My Cool is slightly more downtempo than its feelgood predecessor.
The influence of Mariah Carey is sprinkled all over Lose My Cool. ‘Late Night Radio’ recalls Carey at her most carefree (think ‘Dream Lover’ or ‘Lover Boy’) as Ronika fills the song with lush,layered harmonies. ‘All Comes Back 2 U’ sounds like Carey’s mid-00s era, if she’d been teamed up with the Junior Boys. Despite these comparisons, Ronika never loses sense of her own character and voice — it’s a vital part of her appeal as a performer.
Lose My Cool is more varied than Selectadisc, but it does have a common theme:every song sounds like a single. Ronika channels Nona Hendryx on the funky ‘Make Your Move’ with a sharp chorus that’s full of attitude. ‘Superfine’ sounds like an updated take on the Jam & Lewis school of R&B with its slap bass and glossy guitar. It makes you wish this record had been released in the summer.
The joyful ‘Never My Love’ is familiar, like rediscovering an R&B single that made the top 10 in the 90s that you had forgotten you loved. Ronika’s love of disco reappears with a shoutout to Cerrone on ‘Feeling Is Believing’ and on the cool nu-disco vibes of ‘Trying To See In The Dark’. ‘Better Than Love’ ends the album with a passionate bang. It’s reminiscent of Beyonce’s ‘Love On Top’, with its own euphoric key change. Every one of these songs feel essential and would stand out on the radio.
Ronika has developed something very special on Lose My Cool. The song writing is deceptively simple and the production is so rich and textured that it could be peak Neptunes or The-Dream. She draws inspiration from the past whilst pushing her sound forward. She’s a pop-obsessive who has made a record ideal for pop-obsessives. When talking about making this record Ronika said, “I’ve been drawn not just to newer sounds but those classics who’ll be eternally cool, and each generation will revisit.” She’s done just that, and Lose My Cool is an absolute triumph.