When I first heard the single 'Want You Back' I fell in love with Nite Jewel's use of 80s pop riffs and warped dreamy vocals. So I sussed out more since I played that track non-stop for a month straight. That's how I discovered 'Good Evening'.
My take on Nite Jewel is the music of Madonna's pop hits from the 80s combined with indechipherable Liz Fraser-esque vocals condensed to a Neon Indian sensibility of warped beats and wobbly rhythms. Really, Nite Jewel is hard to explain. It's like if your favorite 80s dance album sat in the summer sun sounding beyond recognition the first time it's played.
There's a do-it-yourself lo-fi amateurish production value to the CD since Ramona Gonzalez pretty much recorded the album in her bedroon using a 8-track tape recorder. You can even hear tape "fizz" if you turn the volume up too loud. Some instrumentation is even out of tune. Everything is a bit off. It sounds like it should be bad but it's not. Rather than detract, these elements add to the otherworld etheral beauty of the CD and weirdly comes together as an enjoyable and listenable whole.
Nite Jewel is dreampop sans the shoegaze haze of electric guitars. Instead, there's washes of shimmering synths, lazy drum machine beats, and Gonzalez's murky falsetto vocals all sprinkled with 80s nostalgia.
'What Did He Say' surfs along on an 80s dance inspired bass riff. 'Weak for Me' oddly joins Gonzalez's falsetto with cheap sounding shimmery synths and an echoey drum machine to an amazing effect. 'Universal Mind' sounds like a long lost 'Heaven or Las Vegas' Cocteau Twins track. And the album closes with a slowed down note-for-note cover of Brian Ferry's 'Lover' (the video is pretty good too).
With the EP single 'Want You Back' released shortly after 'Good Evening' the production values are slick, the tape "fizz" is gone, and Gonzalez's vocals are a bit more discernable but the sound is distinctly the same without losing any of its dreamy edge. In interviews Gonzalez says she wants to focus more on vocals being in the forefront but I hope not too much upfront. Part of the beauty and magic is the mystery and murkiness of her vocals and how they mesh with the music.
Either you're going to love or hate Nite Jewel upon first listen. Even the critics are polarized. I'm glad I'm loving it. What a nice surprise.