Review Summary: A fringe pulling former punk rock/ska personality drags musical elements from everywhere and offers them in this neat little package. Watch out M.I.A.
Santi White’s (formerly Santogold now Santi
gold) methods for spelling the glitz on this eponymous debut record are proficient, even if they’re a little crude around the edges. It’s true; the album has no intention on making its position clear on the genre scale, but this is also why it works so well with such a large audience. Whether dub, ska, club, or nu-wave, it’s apparent that style and substance are just as important to White as being a turn-towards when in need of a well rounded fuzz ball album. With the missile set to seek and destroy, the mission was to transcend the barrier between her outer physiologies, and the stereotype of R&B and Hip-hop that so often gets pinned to her skin colour. Revealing this sound early on, “L.E.S. Artistes”
is the perfect way to begin in regard to the transcendence. Not only are the hooks sharp, the temperament from the White-Hill collaboration is infectious. John Hill as the album’s secondary mirror takes White’s ideas and focuses them to points of pure accessibility. It becomes a producer-artist relationship that isn’t inefficient, isn’t tainted, and most importantly, isn’t overcome with inequality from the creative forces.
“You’ll Find a Way”
, where subtle off beat accents divide this gem from being both Reggae during its verse and electrically charged during the chorus; pure Reggae is later discovered during “Shove It”
but isn’t revisited hereon, which is about as much as this particular album could tolerate in any case. More upbeat rock flows during “Say Aha”
and “Lights Out”
, with the latter being one of the album’s best moments. Later the jungle pop in “Unstoppable”
offers a playful rhythmic approach, with White seemingly mimicking the various sounds of the Amazon in a musical manner. “I’m A Lady”
is also easily reached, mainly because it’s the album’s only slower moment that isn’t overloaded by bass – instead it’s a track about respect; who would have thought? As standard as it is to include such a number, it nevertheless provides another side of the album that’s both a treat to overturn upon a first listen and to revisit again.
It’s satisfying that the album does have replay value, so much that it’s going to be hard to surpass it upon the second orbit. Still with so much ambiguity as to where this album stands other then its own assignment, it would be natural to think the style could become clouded. Interestingly, this never occurs. White’s shrieking vocal sensibilities that have a variety of timbres to suit every moment, and even geographical style, propel this album sky-high. Coupled with some clever instrumentation, a couple of nifty outer collaborations and musical arrangements that are as fluid as the two months spent writing this were, Santogold’s
outcome is: mission accomplished.