Santigold | Master Of My Make-Believe

Downtown/Atlantic (2012)
By DAN WEISS  |  April 24, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars

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Holding the torch for unbridled eclecticism when spontaneity was out of style, Santogold — Santi White's out-of-nowhere 2008 debut —was a very good album that nicked from Tegan and Sara, No Doubt, and reggae-rap, and risked typecasting her even as she defied type. But as a personality or visionary, White's talent is ordinary enough to question how eagerly she's being anticipated four years later. The similarly shape-shifting TV on the Radio's David Sitek helped helm Master of My Make-Believe, and he brought along his friend Karen O for the lead track and easy standout "GO!" It's a nervy and nervous opening track, either too aware or completely indifferent to the ridiculous expectations set up for this four-years-in-the-making follow-up, recalling the let-down of M.I.A.'s last disc. And if you think such comparisons are lazy, just listen to "Fame" and see if they're not justified. But other than repeated exhortations about "a life worth fighting for" on "Disparate Youth," Santigold lives down to the inadequate title, with make-believe, danceable escapism for Urban Outfitters shopping that won't make you question the prices, much less start a riot. Since all we demanded of 2008 tracks "I'm a Lady," "L.E.S. Artistes," and "Lights Out" were catchy tunes, small stakes aren't the problem. We know she traffics in minor techno-reggae and consistently pumping alt-rock. But Sitek's production only makes her seem like more of a shut-in, despite the occasional irresistible glimmer. "The Keepers," for example, has a chorus her more original peers would kill for. Real-world depth and danceable hooks need not be mutually exclusive.

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