Nostalgia is a slippery slope; there is a constant battle between the heavy ideals of appreciation and evolution. Artist and era admiration will always have its place by the fire, and while evolution may be what we strive for the most, it is easily the more tedious endeavor when creating art. Even I battle with myself in regards to what works as a tolerable release of inspiration since being too “retro” can be both an advantage or disadvantage in the music world with the diminishing importance of radio and the internet surrounding every bit of its coverage. Ramona Gonzales is a character that is seeing to strike this balance. She isn’t the dominant, cliché hero on One Second of Love, but she makes an effort that brings her to pleasant arenas and at times, realistically falls short.
“I’m a broken record, you have heard this before.” These ultra-pronounced words uttered over an obnoxious spurt of synth on One Second of Love is the very first impression of the album and coincidentally acts as its thesis. Ramona’s primary foundation of the record is 80s and 90s radio R&B. It’s not a far-flung concept to have influences and nostalgia like this. For most artists in their early-to-mid-twenties, pop and R&B were genres that dominated their stereos as kids, but there were dashes of the classic rock ballad on the current music channels.
Thinking on a level about what the album means sonically, you’ll find that she has something to say about herself and her upbringing. While One Second of Love contains this personal touch of sound, it isn’t used to potential. Grimes actually touched on a similar message with her latest album Visions with a dramatic twist of pop music on a Phil Spector-like magnitude and she elaborates with a modernized take of the pop star-abuse theory. Nite Jewel doesn’t make a push to the future very often, which ends up making her album slightly forgettable.
For the denser, more abrasive part of One Second of Love, Ramona Gonzales focuses on dancier tracks that end up being a roller coaster of quality. “One Second of Love,” the album’s poignant title track, is the most accomplished song of Nite Jewel’s thus far. There is a throwback-dance feel to it; childlike at times, but the background feels menacing and uncomfortable. I have trouble not singing this song because of its structured simplicity, something Nite Jewel strays away from at points of the record. “Mind & Eyes” is difficult to love. It is relaxed and driving, takes advantage of Ramona’s smooth voice, but is draped in the inflated repetition of the title.
Even though the lyrics can be joyously simple for a few parts of the album, they get to be embarrassing with others. “Memory Man” is manic in the drum build-up and doesn’t mix well with the nonsensical, amateurish lyrics, seemingly meant to just exist over the production. The production, by the end of the album, is over-confident on album closer “Clive”, reminiscent of an 80s female ballad. This is One Second of Love‘s best written track lyrically, but Ramona’s voice isn’t quite in the forefront as it should be. It ends with a bit of a whimper.