Saturday, August 30, 2008


Santogold – Self-Titled (2008)
Lizard King

It is inevitable but Santogold will be compared to M.I.A., After all both are outspoken women of Indian heritage who cut their chops in the music industry at an early age. Also both artists have employed the same producers (Switch and Diplo) for their albums. But in reality that’s were it all stops.
See Santogold (aka Santi White) writes pop music for other musicians such as Lilly Allen and Ashlee and this pop sensibility bleeds into her music. During the first half of the album there are hooks and choruses that are aimed strictly for the dancefloor. M.I.A.,on the other hand gives the middle finger to pop and masticates it with a barrage of beats, while dousing it thickly with irony. Like I said before Santogold is not interested in these renegade tactics, she just wants to make an intelligent pop song.
The album starts out with one of the strongest songs L.E.S. Artistes, a ditty that is primarily about what is real and fake in the world today (this is further exemplified by the track’s promo video). It displays all of Santogold’s strengths, her powerful voice, an instantly recognizable song and strong lyrics. As a mission statement to the world, she picked a great song.
Santogold, also has a knack of genre hopping, thus during the first half of ‘Santogold’ we get ‘indie’(You’ll find a way, Say aha) , Reggae and Dancehall ( Shove it and Creator, respectively), and dub ( My Superman). All with a pop sheen. These are songs that are designed to be liked by everyone and they will.
The album’s last hurrah comes with the second single and second strongest track, ‘Lights Out’, a bouncy song which is simply irresistible and will soundtrack the summer months once the media get hold of it.
Unfortunately the rest of the record does not follow up to the strengths of the first half and what we get is a clutch of half baked dub exercises, all moving at tortoise pace and the sheer exhilaration at the beginning turns into disappointment and boredom. The bonus remix of ‘You’ll Find a way’ that is tacked on to the end doesn’t help lift up your spirits in any other way either. Clearly a case of side two syndrome here.
However I am definitely not going to dismiss Santogold, after all this is a debut and as experience tells me, a not very strong debut usually leads to a much stronger second album. Santogold has now proved what she is capable of doing and I’m sure that the second time round she’ll come back with a vengeance. At the moment pretend that ‘Santogold’ is a mini album and enjoy the thrills and spills of the first seven tracks.

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