Santigold – 99 Cents
Released February 26th, 2016 on Atlantic Records
Santigold – born Santi White in Philadelphia – is at a strangely awkward place in her career. After wowing the indie-blog glitterati in 2008 with her debut Santogold, she followed it up four years later with Master Of My Make-Believe, a record that received more muted applause despite being a generally stronger album. The trend continues on 99 Cents, an album that has been largely slept on by critics despite being the strongest recording of Santigold’s discography to date.
Part of the problem, perhaps, is that she’s no longer new and shiny. It’s fairly obvious by now that the blogosphere – spearheaded by Hipster Indie Bible site Pitchfork – is enamored with artists when they’re new and exciting and ditches them as soon as they release follow-ups that build upon strengths in increments. Santigold has fallen victim to that phenomenon; witness the number of outlets that have reviewed 99 Cents as “restrained”, “empty”, and “unambitious”. This, to describe an album that playfully encompasses any number of styles without ever committing to a generic reading of genre. Lead single “Can’t Get Enough Of Myself” bounces on a summer-breeze pop groove while “Big Boss Big Time Business” adds some solid weight to its Carribean bass-boom. “Rendezvous Girl” switches things up for an Eighties-tinged New Wave-inspired rocker while “Who Be Lovin Me” (featuring ILoveMakonnen) puts her squarely in the ambient-shaded singalong world of modern hip hop. 99 Cents goes in a lot of directions at once, but it manages to strike the right path in those directions a lot more than it wanders off. Only “Chasing Shadows” and “All I Got” come off as forgettable; the rest have their own individual character , one infused by the warm, sarcastic vision of their creator.
Santigold may no longer be the shiny hype-draw that blogs are looking for to draw readers in, but 99 Cents is an extremely solid record and Santi White is an artist who’s still willing to take risks and explore sounds.
And the rest…
Jesu/Sun Kil Moon
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