Album review: Santigold's 'Master of My Make-Believe'
If a rebellion ever comes, someone had better give Santigold the microphone. Her messages, even at their most sloganeering, are coded for the dance floor, and the global approach of her compositions lends them a communal sense of urgency. “We’re the keepers,” Santigold sings near the end of the album, and as the brightly textured keyboards rise to meet the singalong vibe, she drops the bomb: “While we sleep in America our house is burning down.”
That’s as close as Santigold gets to any sort of current-events statement on “Master of My Make-Believe,” her second album and first in four years. It’s a sleek effort, with 11 songs that come in at under 40 minutes, and it opens with a bracing call to arms in “Go!” With help from Yeah Yeah Yeahs members Karen O and Nick Zinner, and production from Q-Tip and Switch, the song is techno-futurism mixed with African beats, and its images of fast food and winter palaces hint at class warfare.
“We know that we want more,” Santigold sings on the more hopeful “Disparate Youth,” in which Zinner crashes her worldly dance party with intermittent guitar strikes. All the while, Santigold dips in and out of genres as if she’s sporting musical camouflage, including the big-beat hip-hop of “Freak Like Me,” the touching balladry of “The Riot’s Gone” and the tribal electronics of “Big Mouth.” Throughout, Santigold never stops playing spin-the-globe, and she also never loses sight of her mission to keep listeners moving.
“Master of My Make-Believe”
Three and a half stars (Out of four)
-- Todd Martens
Image: Santigold at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2012. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times