Master of My Make Believe
As a big fan of Santigold’s first album (back then, known as Santogold), I was eagerly awaiting this follow-up. Santi has a very unique way of crafting her music. “Unique?”, you may say, “doesn’t she just sound like M.I.A.?” Well on the surface, yes, this is an easy comparison to make. However, Santi’s second album helps demonstrate her drastic differences between M.I.A., and portrays why she deserves the praise she gets.
Most of the time, people’s criticisms toward Santi come from her sounding too “poppy”. In a recent NPR article, she helps explain her approach in songwriting and exactly her intentions behind her sound. What sticks out to me the most in this article is how she is trying to slip into the top 40. The thing is, she isn’t willing to sacrifice producing a lower quality song to do so. Essentially what this means is that we are getting very accessible music that is also very well made. Some people don’t care for accessible music, and are even turned off by it. These people are also generally reeeeeeeally fun to socialize with at parties.
For Master of My Make Believe, Santi recruited quite the team to step on as producers/writers. From Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs memebers Karen O and Nick Zinner, to David Sitek, to Q-Tip, and of course Diplo and Switch (both producers for M.I.A … just for starters). Be sure to not let the ensemble cast fool you. Santi is still very actively involved in every track on the album, not only in writing, but producing as well. She has a very wide range of talents, and this album demonstrates many of them very well.
Beginning with the opening track, “GO!” (features Karen O) I knew I was going to enjoy listening to this alum. It has a slightly slower build up, but by the first verse, she is singing at rapid pace, and I was totally entranced by the track. She is a bit less intense than M.I.A. Her lyrics aren’t so deeply pitted against government and media for one, and as I already covered, her music has become slightly more accessible. Two tracks later, Davd Sitek enters the album. It’s interesting hear him construct this type of music. His droning noisy presence is still very present in the chorus, but it’s more heavy than anything he’s done thus far in career (as far as I’m aware). All that to say, it’s clearly more similar to a Maximum Balloon track than one you’d find on a TVOTR album.
^She doesn’t want fame … that’s why she became a pop musician.
In terms of energy, the album is all over the place. I was surprised to hear how mellow Santi decided to go with so many tracks on the album. For the fans that are only looking for the heavier dub-electronica dance tracks, you may not be satisfied with a good %50 of the album. However, if you are willing to let Santi settle down and get comfortable with you , you may be surprisingly pleased with what she brings to the table. I know on my first listen the softer tracks just seemed to be fillers to get me to songs like “Fame” and “Freak Like Me” on the album. Since then, I’ve warmed up to them tremendously. “The Riot’s Gone” is borderline indistinguishable from a delicate Yeah Yeah Yeahs track, and “God From the Machine” has more layers to it that initially realized, as well as some killer drumlines. They aren’t all interesting though, and lulls in the album such as “This Isn’t Our Parade”, do exist. I’m still undecided about “Look at These Hoes”. Santi does go off with a Busta-esque chorus, but they lyrics are too repetitive and lackluster to make it actually worthy of praise, let alone the Busta comparison I just threw out there.
I think the novelty of this album may slightly wear on come fall, but throughout this summer, I plan to be blasting it far and wide. I caught her live at Coachella a few weeks ago, and although she is still working on her stage presence, it was a fun show. Now that I know her new material in depth, maybe I’ll enjoy her a bit more come Bonnaroo. Either way, in terms of my personal speakers, ear buds, and playlists are concerned, this may be the “Summer of Santi”.
Can’t Miss: “GO!”, “Fame”, “The Riot’s Gone”, “Disparate Youth”
Can’t Hit: “God From the Machine”, “The Keepers”