Santigold – Master of My Make Believe (Atlantic)
June 8, 2012 by Daniel Gill
It’s not very often that an artist can leave the scene for a long period of time and then come back, still creating that fire they once had. This isn’t a jab at certain artists… this is just what eventually happens in music. It’s something that happens in any job you do, it’s a realisation that you may have to start again, from the beginning, in an environment which is constantly changing. Santigold must have known this when constructing her new album Master of my Make Believe. Although somehow she seems stuck in the middle of trying to recreate her former glory (that appeared thanks to her stunning self-titled debut) and making a new Santigold for 2012.
It seems that Santigold has lost that midas touch in losing former producers and pals DJ Switch and Diplo, so there are no riot-starting bangers like ‘Creator vs Switch’ or dubby slow burners like ‘My Superman’. Now the tracks just feel like standard bubblegum pop tunes which seem to have been wrapped in an alternative packet, just so fans of her debut release can feel satisfied. Santigold has replaced the close knit hit makers with a variety of producers from different genres, probably to try and recreate those original sounds that made her such a fresh talent. There are guest spots from Q-Tip, Boys Noize and Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), however with such a mixed bag of production talent covering so many genres there isn’t a unique soundscape for Santigold’s vocals to glide over.
Her vocals still shine throughout the album and her ability to write an alternative pop song with intelligence and depth still remains. ‘Disparate Youth’ is a prime example of this and it’s the albums lead single. It’s a song which showcases all her talents in just under five minutes. The candy coated vocal harmonies, the heart-warming but lazy twang in her voice, and the fantastic craft to construct commercially appealable lyrics with a bit of edge, that you would probably never hear in a chart song, is something rare for a musician to have nowadays.
You can tell today’s current music scene is an influence in the creation of Master of my Make Believe as tracks like ‘Fame’ and ‘Pirate in the Water’ reek of dubby electronica which seems to be lapped up by 90% of music listeners. It seems like every artist now produces at least one song on their album under dubstep rules, which often seems like a cheap ploy to garner buzz music listeners who are just on the lookout for the latest sub-genre that’s “in”.
Thankfully there are moments in the album that show the side to Santigold that everyone fell in love with all those years ago. It’s on the upbeat, atmospheric emotion tinkerers where she shows the softer side to her character. ‘This isn’t our Parade’ is a great example of this, the mellow tribal drums accompanied by the glazing synth make you feel like you’re sitting by a South American river bank with no worries at all. Her sweet and innocent murmuring vocals complete the tropical scene beautifully.
Sometimes a reintroduction can be hard, and through this release Santigold hasn’t been able to recreate that magic that she showed four years ago. Saying all that she still shows she can make alternative pop jams which don’t need a glittery coating to be accepted into mainstream ears.