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Key Tracks: "Disparate Youth," "Freak Like Me," "Riot's Gone”
Santi White is both intimidating and intriguing. When she was known as 'Santogold,' the Philadelphia-native received overwhelming praise for her self-titled new-wave debut album which featured the hit songs "L.E.S. Artistes" and "Creator."
Four years later, her change of name to Santigold isn't the only alteration seen from the musician. Her sophomore release, Master of My Make-Believe, presents all the passion of her first and then some.
Master of My Make-Believe was partially recorded in Jamaica and utilizes underlying African-style percussion dances throughout the album, adding an addicting quality to Santigold's overall sound.
Master of My Make-Believe can be best described as a bell curve of sorts. It kicks off with fierce energy, swells to a dramatic yet easy-listening sound, then returns to a primitive and raw intensity. This arrangement keeps the listener attentive and always anticipating the next track.
The aptly named opening track “Go!” jump-starts the album with a fast-paced, intense rhythm that’ll motivate any listeners to get off their couch and dance. The tune features Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which sets a badass “girl power” tone for the rest of the album.
“Disparate Youth” displays a catchy snare-and-kick rhythm interrupted by blaring guitar strums, giving it a Sleigh Bells flair, but the tropical undertone mixed with subtle political lyrics is distinctively Santigold.
African influences are especially audible on “Freak Like Me” and “This Isn’t Our Parade.” The former bares the funky psychedelic elements that put the artist on the map. Once “This Isn’t Our Parade” hits, the album switches to a chill, passionate vibe. The airy beauty of "Riot's Gone" takes the listener on a spiritual journey as White's voice soars over dramatic percussion.
"Pirate in the Water"'s prominent reggae flair is proof that Jamaica rubbed off on White. It's a relaxed, easy-to-listen-to track that's somewhat entrancing. On "The Keepers," White displays her ability to balance powerful lyrics with smooth musicality. The refrain "We're the keepers / While we sleep in America, our house is burning down" is definitely politically charged, but you wouldn't notice it due to the track's bright sing-along quality.
Following “The Keepers,” White snaps out of her tranquil spell and returns to the energy of her debut album at a breakneck speed. The hilariously titled "Look at These Hoes" serves as a surprising interruption of the previously mellow mood. It’s hard not to feel intimidated as White fervently spits gossipy lyrics over a snare-and-kick backtrack.
The album concludes with "Big Mouth" which demonstrates a similar ardor. It's a nice change up from most albums which seem to end on a calmer note, but that's Santigold for you; unpredictable and energetic. That killer combination may win the hearts of new listeners everywhere and earn Master of My Make-Believe even more recognition than her first album.
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