Album Review: Santigold – ‘Master Of My Make Believe’

Posted: 25/04/2012 in Uncategorized

As published on Entertainment.ie on April 21st 2012

It’s hard to believe that it was way back in 2008 that Santigold (then Santogold) unleashed her widely acclaimed eponymous debut. Info on the follow-up proved elusive, until April of 2011 when ‘Go!’ came along – and what a way to signal a return. Out of nowhere, Santi White sent the blogosphere into frenzy – a brand new song, self-produced with assistance from Q-Tip and Switch, and featuring none other than Yeah Yeah Yeahs almighty leading lady Karen O lending her vocal talents to the cause. The song made for an exciting indicator as to what Santigold might have in store for album #2… and finally, it has arrived.

Master of My Make Believe isn’t so much a follow-up album as it is a reintroduction – by the blistering pace of current standards, four years is a very long time between albums. There has been a significant changing of the guard on Planet Pop since Santigold released that dazzling debut, and she has certainly not been shy with her opinions on the present day musical landscape. When the album’s advance single ‘Big Mouth’ was released as a free download back in January of this year, the accompanying animated music video blatantly poked fun at pop powerhouses Lady GaGa and Katy Perry. A subsequent interview with Pitchfork in February saw her address her frustrations further – “I’m disappointed with the state of music right now… I think there’s a lack of true art, and the fanfare is valued over actual substance. It’s like you don’t have to make good music to be f*cking huge”. Is she right? Well, that’s a matter of personal taste. Was she wrong to launch such an attack? Yes. It’s all a bit Eminem circa early 2000s, really. Pop music is in a constant state of flux – don’t like LMFAO and David Guetta? Then don’t work with LMFAO and David Guetta – and let your own music do the talking!

Thankfully, Master of My Make Believe has the goods to back up Santigold’s assertion of musical substance. The album is a sonically eclectic smorgasbord of beats, genre-hopping musically whilst remaining vocally grounded. The opening duo of tracks are somewhat of a juggernaut – the afore mentioned ‘Go!’, followed by the brilliant yet criminally underrated second single ‘Disparate Youth’. In truth, they’re the album’s two standout tracks, and the remainder fails to scale the dizzyingly high initial standard that they set. But this is not a detraction – they’re the singles, that is the purpose they serve – and there is plenty more on Master of My Make Believe to make it worthwhile. The militant percussion which drives ‘God From The Machine’ is completely engrossing, whilst the richly textured melodic layers of ‘This Isn’t A Parade’ showcase the more subdued side of Santigold to great effect. For all her talk of “creating true art”, there is a seriously strong waft of Lykke Li off ‘The Riot’s Gone’ – the track really would not have been out of place on the Swede’s most recent album Wounded Rhymes. However ‘The Keepers’ encompasses all that is great about this album – precision percussion, with a barrage of beats and blips, and a huge chorus. The common thread throughout it all is that ever-distinctive voice – powerful, and flawless.

An emphatic declaration of finding control within her world, Master Of My Make Believe cements the fact that Santigold is no transient debut album success story – four years and a vowel change later, she’s proving that good things come to those who wait. Just don’t be expecting any LMFAO remixes in the near future.

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