Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Nite Jewel – Kiss the Screen

But is God on the screen or nah?


Juana Giaimo: For some people, the Internet is a mirror of their reality, since they mostly interact with other people they know in real life and the websites they visit are related to their daily activities. But what happens when you discover in the internet another reality? To put it in our terms, does The Singles Jukebox exists outside the Internet? I know all the writers and readers exist in person, but a daily publication of collective reviews of three singles per day that include comments and readers’ ratings, is inconceivable without the Internet. When I listen to “Kiss the Screen,” I see myself trapped in the double life I carry every day. Although Nite Jewel mentions a “he”, it has little importance who her crush actually is. Instead, she is disturbed by a reality that exists only in the other side of the screen yet still manages to emotionally affect her. After the despairing questions of the chorus, her voice suddenly shifts to find satisfaction in one idea: “And I take it out with me; we’re just a handheld fantasy”. There is secrecy in her voice, too, not only because this crush is literally in her hands — and only there, not in real life — but also because she knows that many people in real life would disapprove of her feelings. They’d say it is a silly entertainment turned into an obsession; but we’d be incapable of differentiating it from life. 

Tim de Reuse: So, we’ve got a bouncing, off-kilter Moog bassline; stretchy, sparkling synth chords; a kick-snare-kick-snare rhythm section from the cheapest drum machine money can buy; delicate, feathery oohs rounding out the chorus. The element that keeps this track from being a forgettably pitch-perfect emulation of late ’80s / early ’90s kitsch is the masterfully catchy hook of the main chorus, delivered with just enough passion to cut through the sugary fog. That hook is the only leg the track has to stand on, unfortunately, but hey, that’s as pop as pop gets, isn’t it?

Katie Gill: This is a weird, wonderful hybrid of radio pop and somebody having too much fun with the synthesizer. The vocals and the electronics blend together in a wonderful way, bright pop mixing together with the pulsing backbeat. The pop hook interplays with the slightly DIY sounding electronics in a way that sounds refreshingly natural.

Taylor Alatorre: At the halfway point between bedroom pop amateurism and Big 80s maximalism, and afraid to fully commit to either. The parts that deftly elaborate upon the basic synthpop template — the snare hits before the chorus, those softly fluttering “kiss kiss”es — are clouded by the claustrophobic rigidity of the whole affair. Gonzalez certainly sings like someone who would agonize over whether to hit send, but under these conditions, the effect is to deepen the distance between artist and audience rather than cultivate empathy. Also, I’m getting a bit bored of songs about modern technology that sound oblivious to the era in which they were created.

Alfred Soto: Those frosty synths go some way towards mitigating the blank, parched vocal; it sounds like a demo, with its inherent charm and limitations.

A.J. Cohn: The perfect marriage of opposites. On the one hand, “Kiss the Screen” is about the tragedy of the digitally-facilitated sexual fantasy that can never be consummated, what with the inevitable barrier of the screen. Yet on the other, the track sonically celebrates, with its shimmering synths, the radiant, luminous joy of an all-consuming crush.

Cassy Gress: Those “yes, yes” susurrations in the chorus are meant to be an echo of her own bursting heart, but they’re mixed higher and more clearly than the stairwell harmonies. Combined with those shooting-star “The More You Know” synths and the implacable bassline, I envision the person saying “yes, yes” as an eerily grinning figure, a dark twin shadowed behind her shoulder.

Ryo Miyauchi: Listening to Nite Jewel’s gutsy take on digital love, I realize I prefer my second-screen pop to feel cold and fragile. I like its disappointment about distance to be expressed by a sigh, not exclamation points. It just hurts better that way.

Mo Kim: I know what it’s like to fixate. I know what it’s like to stare at pictures of men you have convinced yourself are too good for you; this is just how it goes when you’re gay and traumatized and still trying to figure out what love can look like. Most nights, you find yourself buried under the sheets, eyes splintering under the gaze of your phone screen. You fixate on beautiful images of beautiful people you have imagined into being, but you can’t stare at them too long–they’ll blind you if you let them. Somehow, knowing this and feeling it aren’t quite the same. “Kiss The Screen” sounds like my iPhone 4 feels in the palm of my hand: old, tired, yet too familiar to deny. Its dynamics have been worn dull on both ends, its synth progressions sandpapered into monotone ranges, Ramona Gonzalez’s voice rendered as thinly as morning mist. It all feels tired to me, and still I want to believe there is light filtered through all the melancholy: the song marks its chorus like a beacon on a map, constantly circling back to the same handheld fantasies. It’s exhilarating. It’s exhausting. It’s something I can’t replay too many times.

Katherine St Asaph: The Jepsenbot was better in theory. Especially when the one production came out with had those hollow choir vowels.

Peter Ryan: In these here modern handheld-fantasy times of swipes upon swipes and headless torsos ad infinitum, Gonzalez deftly maneuvers the emotional terrain of the unvoiced online (or at most, minimally-IRL, but there’s no evidence they’ve ever actually met) crush, balancing lustful-creepy-anxious paralysis on the verses (those Gary Numan synths) with the chorus’ borderline-euphoric declaration of near-intent to act (“maybe I’ll figure out…”). That she can do this without any crotchety hand-wringing or judgy subtext makes this something special. Between this and “Boo Hoo”, she’s getting all of my mopey hopes up for Liquid Cool.

Will Adams: Like if Goldfrapp’s Head First belly flopped instead.

Brad Shoup: A voice coming at you from the heels, baking in a shallow pan. The synthbass wants so badly to walk it out, but a brittle kind of clarity is desired. To be reductive: Whigfield covering “Anything Could Happen”.

Reader average: [6] (1 vote)

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