Nite Jewel - One Second of Love

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2012-03-06

Ramona Gonzalez, Nite Jewel's nerve-centre, here gives a spruce to the lo-fi synth-pop she makes with producer/husband Cole M.G.N. Second album One Second of Love feels like a play for greater mainstream success, especially on the nu-soul likes of 'She's Always Watching You' and 'Autograph' which have some Destiny's Child sassiness wedded to their Casio keyboard rhythms. While the light-hearted, girlish swing of these two tracks is irresistible, Gonzalez's newfound pop-soul feel doesn't always work, largely thanks to her tendency to slip into a foghorn honk when she should keep it airy. What works in her favour is the minimalism of the music, as on night-time ballad 'Mind Eyes' which has a Spartan, taut production worthy of 80s Prince.

Despite some engaging moments, however, you're unlikely to want to play One Second of Love all the way through more than once. For a start, it's ballad-heavy and very one-pace. Also, the likes of 'In the Dark' are not just pretty but insipid, like something that would provide filler on a Dido album. Tracks like this and 'Memory Man' have a whiff of 90s ersatz, dinner party soul about them and are almost guaranteed to make music fans of a certain age shudder.

Thankfully, there are some gems here. 'Unearthly Delights' is an almost a cappella hymn, Gonzalez restrained voice accompanied by just a muted keyboard and some subtle percussion. Meanwhile, the title track takes Depeche Mode style moody synth-pop and adds some choppy new wave dynamics. It's hooky without trying too hard to be pop. Elsewhere, 'No I Don't' plays with some intriguing, trip hop dynamics, its squelchy bass and cavernous atmospherics working well against Gonzalez's vocal.

These highlights leave behind the soul styling of the rest of the album and are actually more genuinely soulful for it. Unfortunately, this also means that the album doesn't tie together in any coherent way. There are some great moments on One Second of Love, and, for the record, Gonzalez has the voice of an angel for most of the album, especially on closer 'Clive'. But too much of this record is, frankly, slow and boring. Clearly, Nite Jewel can do far better, so it's still worth keep an ear open to future, hopefully more daring, releases.

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