Album Review: Santigold

master of my make-believe (atlantic)

Released just a short week or two ago, Master Of My Make-Believe is the long-awaited sophomore LP from the confusingly vowel-swapping Santigold.

It's been four years since Santi White's debut, which received a very highly positive critical response with her decidedly original take on a fusion of pop, hip-hop, electronica, dub, new wave and pretty much any other genre that could be jammed into an album that not surprisingly became hugely successful.

MoMMB has been produced with a wide range of different collaborators and producers including long time friends like Switch and Diplo plus David Sitek of TV on the Radio and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O also featuring on GO!. Prior to its full release (23rd April) the album produced 3 singles (GO!, Big Mouth and Disparate Youth).

Just as an experiment, this review will have a different approach to normal. Now I personally loved Santogold (the debut), and knowing what I like, I think there's a high possibility I may end up buying this LP, and I'm saying that before I've heard anything more than two of the singles. So, do first impressions count? MoMMB is lined up on Spotify, after a first-listen, track by track analysis, will I decide to buy this or not? Rolling! ...

1. GO! (feat. Karen O) - Have heard this before, nice and moody start but albeit a rather abrupt beginning to the album, seems to just drop straight in there with very little messing about or preamble ... Could be a good thing, not 100% certain though. Bizarrely reminiscent of the rap section of a Musical Youth track - but with a ominous militaristic rhythm track! Actually a great builder - So far so impressive.

2. Disparate Youth - See video above. A more mellow electronica vibe over some fat dub bass and skittering beats. Good single choice. Backing vocals had me checking to see whether they were actually sampled from The Joy Formidable's Austere (they're not).

3. God From The Machine - First one fresh to the ears. More dubbish bottom-end and military snare - makes a cool combination. Quite laid-back though.

4. Fame - Nicely disjointed intro which leads into some huge dinosaurian stompage. Screams out for an earth-shattering dubstep remix.

5. Freak Like Me - Reggaeton Revistited! Dear Reader, now is the time to be thankful that I am experiencing this record in the privacy of my own home. No-one likes to see a grown man move like that ...

6. This Isn't Our Parade - Another smoother, chilled track. As do many moments so far - there's melodies here that bring to mind cheesy eighties poptracks that hover just on the periphery of recollection. Portrayed here sans-fromage however.

7. The Riot's Gone - More of the same. Ballady. Picks up latterly with the return of the little drummer boys and explores a more Florencey feel, which is really quite enjoyable.

8. Pirate In The Water - A pleasant open dub track, reverb hanging in the wings not sure whether to make a show of itself or not.

9. The Keepers - The chorus aside, I kind of had a feeling this might happen ... Military-style drumming? Nods to eighties pop? Little hints of Florence? - and whaddaya know, Santigold pulls away the veil and reveals herself as Kate Bush in disguise, knocking out a 21st century, more upbeat re-invention of Hounds of Love. That being said - it works!

10. Look At These Hoes - A high octane electro-burst. The best 'Two Ronnies' tribute song ever .... Looking forward to the 'Four Candles' remix.

11. Big Mouth - Album closer and the third single (which I've not yet heard). Builds up the intro to an anticipatory explosion which ... drops! Initial disappontment at lack of thumping continuation alleviated by thinking the verse part could almost be The Ting Tings without guitars and then Boom! - Awesome techno-latin chorus is about as brilliant as it gets. Time to shout "Encore!" repeatedly.

Conclusion: Firstly - I must remember to either pay for Spotify or avoid it altogether, failing that and the next bunch of interjected commercials will bring on the planetary conjunction of my monitor and a large heavy object.

As for the album .... Well, ending on Big Mouth frankly blows any qualms about some of the less punchy tracks completely out of the water. My purchase probability likelihood after the first-listen is right up at 90%. One more run through and I do believe the deal is done. Is it a better album than the 2005 debut? You know, It's different, more consistent in a way, Santigold seems to have settled more towards one area rather than covering all bases at once and that perhaps brings it beyond what was achieved with the first. Either way - Glorious!. I'm in.