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A song about the Romance Naked Lunch: the “frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of the fork,” in this case in a relationship.

The lyrics include three points of view, three voices. The first, acapella and multi-tracked with an echo-y drag, is asking “Who killed the moonlight?”–who shut off the romance, why suddenly don’t I feel the magic? The second voice, driven by a menacing bass line (are all bass lines kind of menacing? it’s not a happy instrument), is narrative and describes the scene: two lovers together by the riverside at the end of this night of reckoning, trying to decide what to do next, whether to acknowledge their loss of feeling. They stand “still and desired”–desire lasts longer than love, but is it enough to last through the next morning, and the one after that?   

Then the medley turns sparkly, and a third voice enter, hopeful, coquette-ish:

     Hey, I’m never gonna let you down
     We shouldn’t have to say goodbye
     When the moon falls from the sky

Then this voice jumps a key, straining, convincing itself:

    Hey, I’m never gonna let you down
    I swear, no not this time

But of course she will, because once you start questioning the moonlight it’s already gone, and of course all three voices are inside the same person’s head. The song drifts out on the words “let you down” repeated in a call-and-response between the singer and a backing chorus, the chorus acting as a fourth voice, of brutal reality and morning-after self-knowledge.

(This song is from Nicole’s new album, Slow Phaser, which I have to admit I’m not loving. It’s overproduced in a way that seems fussy to me, the percussion too beat track-y, the electronica and disco touches distracting. Lyrically it seems to mostly be about how hard it is to be young and pretty in Hollywood and/or the record industry, looking for love but surrounded by liars and sharks, but also seems to realize how familiar this theme is and so couches it in language that’s too vague for me to get any foothold. I preferred Nicole as a dark-souled Celine Dion than as Jenny Lewis, who writes better and more specific lyrics. From interviews Nicole seems unlikely to head back in that neo-noir, David Lynch/Roy Orbison direction, and I wonder how long I’ll keep listening. It’s too bad when artists lose interest in the thing they’re best at.)

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