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Album review: Nite Jewel's 'One Second of Love'

March 6, 2012 |  6:28 am

Nitejewel

Coming up through the Los Angeles experimental music scene, Nite Jewel, a.k.a. Ramona Gonzalez, is a musical scavenger. She's fascinated by certain sounds for both nostalgic and cerebral reasons, and throughout her new album, “One Second of Love,” those two forces duke it out.

Gonzalez kicks off the record by singing, “I'm a broken record; you have heard this before,” which is pretty cheeky coming from an unapologetic retroist. Over the course of 10 minimalist collages, Nite Jewel combines Italian disco, the electro-thump of '90s R&B and '80s radio pop with the froth served frozen. She obsesses over the details, isolating them in synth atmospheres so akin to Muzak that our ears are almost trained to treat them as silence. In her artfully arranged pastiches, those details pop — whether it's the clacking of typewriter keys in “Autograph” or the jarring syncopation in “She's Always Watching You.”

In addition to being a scavenger, Nite Jewel is a bit of a trickster. She employs just enough traditional structure to get her weird songs labeled as pop. It's smart, like everything on “One Second of Love.” But sometimes Nite Jewel's music feels so controlled, you can't help but wonder what would happen if she'd lose her head for not just one second, but one minute or more.

RELATED:

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Album review: Bruce Springsteen's 'Wrecking Ball'

Critic's Notebook: Nite Jewel, Julia Holter and a new sound of L.A.

— Margaret Wappler

“One Second of Love”
Nite Jewel
Secretly Canadian
Three stars (out of four)

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