Santogold: Santogold Album Review

Depending on how you look at it, Santi “Santogold” White is either a fresh new artist or an old pro exploring new territory. Her industry resume is impressive with song-writing credits in a variety of genres, experience as a label exec, and stage time as part of the Punk band Stiffed. Nevertheless, releasing her first solo album is a horse of a different color (hey… maybe that’s what the “L.E.S. Artistes” video is about). For a musician with the range of Santogold, the project is an exciting opportunity, but a huge challenge to her creative stamina. Her semi-self-titled debut doesn’t meet that challenge quite as well as it could, but it still shows that it’s a challenge she’s up for. The frustrating thing about Santogold is that, in the best moments, it’s legitimately incredible. “Creator” focuses White’s energy into auditory canon fire while “Starstruck” has a hypnotic darkness that’s difficult to escape. On the lighter side, “Unstoppable” blends traditional Caribbean Pop with unexpected modern flourishes that add up to a fresh interpretation of the style. Lesser artists would be overshadowed by the dense production, but Santi’s expressive vocals keep her in the spotlight. Unfortunately, while she feels natural in all of her varied styles, Santogold’s theoretically impressive diversity is the biggest problem with the album as a whole.While there are a lot of individually great songs here, they never really come together to form any clear direction. The purely Punk attempts (“You’ll Find a Way”) don’t play well with the grimey Electronic ones (the “You’ll Find a Way” remix). Since they aren’t necessarily great to begin with, the Rock based tracks waste space on a tracklist with only eleven unique songs. White is apparently attempting to prove a point about her Punk roots, but since she doesn’t innovate from within that genre anywhere near as much as she does in others, she actually does herself a disservice.By the end, it’s hard to really get a clear picture of what Santogold is supposed to be. She has a large arsenal of talents but by trying to use them all at once, White has somewhat overplayed her hand. Even still, Santogold herself is a captivating artist who comes close enough to living up to her hype; maybe she hasn’t given us quantity of quality that she’s capable of, but the two-thirds of this album that work are well worth a few clicks on the fast-forward button.