Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quite a while back, the superb Joe Mac wrote this review of the then freshly released self-titled Santogold album. Now recently recovered from a mess of emails, it's here for you to read and digest. Enjoy!

If you’re fickle like myself, and tend to judge books (and CDs) by their covers then Santogold’s eponymous debut album is very much for you. Like a magpie, I was greatly attracted to it by the shiny cover, on which the striking Santogold looks like she’s sicking up glitter everywhere. Lovely! Like me, you might also have been drawn in by the sticker with NME’s quote `the Queen of Pop in 2008` or the general hype and rave reviews she’s been receiving. I wanted to know if the acclaim was justified.
Santogold (real name, Santi White) definitely has the look. She brings two robot-babe dancers to aid her in her performance. She wears the right clothes and knows the right people (Spank Rock, M.I.A, and Switch have all been involved on the album.) When she’s not busy networking, the former A & R rep./punk band frontwoman is penning innovative pop, gigging it and polishing her trainers (probably). This album is the fruit of her labour and it seems to reflect the variety of influences and experiences Santi has absorbed. Her distinctive, smooth-as-cream voice on tracks like `Lights Out` is reminiscent of Blondie in her `Eat To The Beat` prime. `Your Voice` (available as a free download here) is a sublime exercise in reggae-tinged relaxation.

Still, Santogold is not above getting gritty, as is perhaps best demonstrated on her best known track, `L.E.S. Artistes`, which was one of the tracks of last year. A highlight of the album, it’s one of those tunes that will require a lobotomy should you wish to extract it from your head (you won’t.) `Unstoppable` is an intergalactic funk fugitive, resplendent with bleeps and the sound of an old modem connecting to the internet (why has this previously irritating noise become so ubiquitous in dance/hip hop/electro?!) Apparently, Santi White lives on the same street as futuro-pioneer, M.I.A. and you can imagine them chilling out to this album in their oxygen tents (or whatever it is futuristic people do.)

So, does Santogold bring anything new to the crowded platter of pop? Well, not really. In a recent interview, Santi admitted a love of 80’s music; "I felt that a lot of pop music from the ‘80s had a depth to it, and I hope to bring back some more good pop songs.” She has succeeded, as we’ll probably all get sick of `Creator` and `Les Artistes` after repeat viewings of Loreal’s hair adverts or nights out clubbing. Like the best ‘80s pop, this is a brilliantly produced, slick effort with an emphasis on simple melodies and hooks. While there are plenty more bombastic, revolutionary and futuristic pop albums out there, (think Muse’s Supermassive Blackhole or MIA’s Kala) this is worth a listen, but if you’re expecting to be blown away by originality you’ll be slightly disappointed.

[MP3] Santogold - Your Voice - Buy album here
[MYSPACE] Find Santogold on myspace here