Friday, May 30, 2008

Santogold -- Santogold (2008)

Santogold -- Santogold (Downtown)

It seems appropriate that Santogold’s debut is on the same label that brought us Gnarls Barkley. As much if not even moreso than the Cee-Lo/Dangermouse combo, Santogold ably mixes genres, with a foundation of R & B and hip-hop, but branching out into about any pop style that suits her needs.

Santogold is the stage name for Santi White, a noted songwriter and A & R person who just happens to be a pretty decent singer. Her voice isn’t the gold standard, but she’s really expressive and enjoyable.

She works with a lot of top talent, including producers Diplo and Switch. Although it’s Switch, and not Diplo, who produces “Creator”, there’s no mistaking M.I.A.’s influence on this track. I don’t find White’s take on ‘hip-hop gone world music’ as rich and dense as M.I.A.’s. Still, it sure is catchy and easy to dance to. That’s never a thing.

Her forays into straight reggae are more effective. This especially true on “Unstoppable”, which Diplo produced. The blips and beeps that accent the riddims give this a certain degree of authenticity. Not that authenticity is what this is about. What this is about is a vision of pop as a genre unto itself, without worrying about meddlesome categories.

This is an album that sounds almost like a singles compilation. Whether it’s the 21st Century new wave update of lead track “L.E.S. Artistes”, which is the great lost Missing Persons track, with a more listenable lead singer (this has an indelible hook) or the giddy mid-tempo pop-rock of “Lights Out” or the Two-Tone inflected “Say Aha” (if No Doubt actually sounded like their inspirations), White delivers the goods on track after track.

Although this album came out in the early spring, it sounds like a summer soundtrack.

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