Ronika will always kinda’ be ‘the one that got away’ for us. After appearing on electronic rumors volume 1, the album that made us decide to launch a record label, we would have given our right arm to sign Ronika, we just never found an angle. Not only is she an incredibly talented songwriter, performer and producer (having been a professional sound engineer in her pre-Pop star life), but with her own releases via her label Record Shop, a shrewd businesswoman too. Honestly, we could never think of anything we could offer her that she couldn’t already do amazingly well herself. If only we’d had loads of money back then.
After spending the past couple of years releasing some of the finest singles in the country, Ronika is finally ready to drop her début album; Selectadisc. Named after legendary record Nottingham record shop (which is lucky, if we released an album based on our childhood crate digging haunt it would be called ‘Tony’s’, which doesn’t have the same ring to it.), the LP has already been a big part of our life since late last year (at this point I’m going to have to drop the blog ‘we’).
Late last year my dad died. Shit happens, it was pretty dark. Certain sections of the music industry sent over their condolences and musical care packages, it was touching and appreciated. Topping off the outpouring of sympathy Ron send over a copy of the then-just-mastered and untitled Selectadisc. Now, I’m not going to go all soap opera on you and say it made everything better. My dad had just died y’know. But it did do practically the impossible, take my mind of things for a while. And put a smile on my face. The album has been constantly play-listed ever since.
At this juncture, just before slipping back into the entirely more comfortable blog ‘we’, I’d like to point out that had Selectadisc been a bit shit none of that story would make sense. Luckily for all involved it’s not a bit shit, not even a tiny bit. If fact it’s fucking awesome, in every possible way and so far 2014’s best album (and looking unlikely to be beaten). Keep in mind that the likes of Tensnake and Chromeo have released records this year too and I swear that I am being as un-biased as humanly possible when I say that. Best album of the year.
So, to the music. As to be expected (almost) all the ‘hits’ are present and correct. Wiyoo, Forget Yourself, Paper Scissors Stone, Clock, Only Only, In The City and Rough ‘N’ Soothe are all here in newly recorded versions.Collected together here they present a timeline of Ronika’s journey as she weaves in and out of 80s Pop, Disco, Italo and Boogie; unleashing catchy hooks and infectious choruses as she travels. Only Automatic and Do Or Die from Ronika’s discography are missing, but seeing as they are making room for the new material we’ll excuse their absence.
The track we were most excited about hearing on Selectadisc was 1000 Nights. For a long time our live favourite; the tune doesn’t disappoint in studio form as Ronika puts one foot in the 80s Power Pop arena an delivers a huge cinematic epic. Like Bonnie Tyler meets Giorgio Moroder, 100 Nights is the hit single from an imaginary 80s movie soundtrack. There’ll be a ton of dry ice and wind machines in the video. It’s spot as our favourite of Selectadisc’s new material was usurped, though, by Video Collection. Video Collection reigns as one of the album’s standout tracks with it’s driving late 80s beat, punchy Italo bassline, sing-a-long chorus and sense of humour. We’re not sure if “built up my video collection, and now it’s good for nothing” is supposed to be a metaphor for life and emotional investment; but taken literally it pretty much describes our lives.
Album teaser Shell Shocked serves up it’s springy-bass laden soulful epicness, pairing Ron’s vocally sweeter side with some complex synth work, to offer a musically nostalgic TOTP moment amongst the Boogie. Selectadisc’s mid-point moment of cool comes in the form of Believe It, a laid back and involving slice of electronic Soul that finds Ron at her most Motown (vocally) over a shuffling late 80s groove, that serves as the calm before the Earthrise.
Earthrise treads similar bombastic territory to 1000 Nights, but adds a little B-Boy Electro to the Boogie with galloping hi-hats and a comfortable mixture of starlight synths and Disco licks sitting in-between the Robo beats and Ron’s passionate performance. Which makes for a nice contest with What’s In Your Bag?, a track that was our least favourite on first listen. Definitely a grower, our opinion of What’s In Your Bag? has gone from ‘filler’ to ‘work of pure genius’. Both the sunshine Pop vibe and the at-first-glace throwaway lyrics can seem alien on the record, but delving into the track revels a lyrical wit and 90s dance vibe that it is really hard not to love.
The other pre-album teaser Search Siren acts at the album’s spiritual epilogue. It’s enigmatic drama putting a full stop to proceedings with low key beats and one of the finest vocal performances on the album. We say ‘spiritual’ epilogue, because the album actually closes on Mixtape. A fun and funky tune, Mixtape feels a little out of place on Selectadisc but makes for a perfect encore and, in it’s own way, seems to sum up the experience of Selectadisc, only from the outside (it’s also definitive proof of the well known playground wisdom that ‘girls can’t make gun noises’).
So, to summarise (in case you haven’t been paying attention or have skipped to the end); buy this album. We guarantee it’ll either be your favourite record of the year, or in your top five. Ronika can write classic Pop songs with the best of them, but she’s so steeped in Disco, Italo and Boogie that every second of Selectadisc oozes compelling robotic Funk. That’s a combination that many try, but very very few ever master, and Ronika pulls it off better than anyone we can think of. Even Chromeo. So there.
Your summer starts right here.
–Edit– Apparently Mixtape isn’t on the final release of the album, so the world will be deprived of Ronika’s gun noises. Sadface.
♫ Ronika – Shell Shocked
♫ Ronika – Rough ‘N’ Soothe (Single Version)
♫ Ronika – In The City (Single Version)
♫ Ronika – Wiyoo (Single Version)
Ronika’s Selectadisc is due out 2nd June and can be pre-order on vinyl from the Record Shop shop here.
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