Today’s POP RESCUE from obscurity, is the 2008 debut album Santogold from American artist Santigold.
This 12 track album opens with part of the double-A side debut single L.E.S. Artistes. A strong beat and guitar line ushers us in, and soon we’re met by bassline, handclaps and Santigold’s vocals. She reminds me somewhat of a mid-way point between Cyndi Lauper, Gwen Stefani (of No Doubt) and Pink!, and seems to make light work of the vocals on this catchy little guitar-led track. The single stalled in the UK at #27.
Next up is You’ll Find A Way, which comes roaring in – much heavier than the previous track. There’s some great beats here and Santi really puts in a great range of vocals with great power, speed, and perfection. The backing vocals weave in and out throughout, and the song aptly comes to an abrupt halt.
Shove It (feat. Spankrock) is up next, and it’s laden with bass but remains quite a chilled out track. ‘We think you’re a joke, shove your hope where it don’t shine‘ she sings over, and this really helps keep the track fairly catchy. Spankrock add in a fairly mid-tempo rap, retaining the laid-back feel.
Say Aha follows, picking up the pace from the outset with Santi shouting ‘Say!‘. This is a fast song, and is catchy as hell. It’s filled with funky bass, twanging guitar, and some very catchy ‘la da da lay‘ parts. At about 2m 10s it takes a chilled interlude with brass before switching back to bassline and high vocals from Santi, before returning back to the ‘la da da lay‘ mesmerising vocals. This song is impossible not to try to dance to. Great stuff! Sadly though, it failed to chart in the UK.
Lead single Creator (VS Switch and Fred Nasty) is up next. This track feels like a strange electro RnB – with plenty of squeaking and whirring synths (imagine playing something on your SNES), against Santi’s feisty vocals, over a heavy but slow beat. This is quite an electro romp, but not massively catchy.
The plodding synth of My Superman follows, with Santigold sounding pretty close to Gwen Stefani here. The song is somewhat hypnotising in the chorus, and Santi’s haunting vocals over the plodding bass and beats accentuates this. Other than that, there’s little else to this song.
Lights Out follows this, seeing the return of the chugging guitars. Santi’s vocals are softer here, and perfectly pitched against the guitar. This was the third single from the album, and whilst it’s really quite a nice little song, it failed to chart in the UK.
There’s some delicious synths throughout next song Starstruck, again sounding like something from a Super Mario level. By contrast, Santi’s vocals cut through, complimented by occasional ‘aah‘ backing vocals. This song plods slowly through, but this fits perfectly – giving the bleeps and tinkling of the synths time to evolve. Lyrically there’s not much here to remember.
Next up is Unstoppable. ‘I’ve got to be unstoppable. eh eh eh you don’t lie‘ she sings. She doesn’t sound like she’s in the mood to negotiate in this song. Her hard monotone voice chants through the synths and beats like a knife. It stops as abruptly as you’d expect.
I’m A Lady (Feat. Trouble Andrew) comes slinking in with guitar, bass and drums. This is a really, really nice song and it feels a little out of place here alongside some of these harder more electro songs. It shows off Santi’s vocals perfectly, and is also pretty catchy. This should have been a single.
Anne follows and this sees a gentle synth popping beat and Santi is soon giving us howl-like ‘oooh‘s which make this song quite a gently hypnotising song. Musically it reminds me somewhat of something you’d expect to find on Arcade Fire‘s 2006 Neon Bible album. It’s simple, but the layering really brings it all together.
The album closes with You’ll Find A Way (Switch and Sinden Remix), which basically takes the song and makes it a chart-friendly tribal paint-by-numbers-RnB track. It does feel like it’s being given lots more vocal samples and heavier synths, and that kind of helps the song to build up nicely… but then suddenly it’s all over.
Over all, this album is somewhat of a mixed bag, but there’s nothing really here to dislike. There’s some brilliant tracks that deserve hearing (and greater success) – I’m A Lady, L.E.S Artistes, Say Aha, Shove It, and Lights Out, but there’s also some heavier dub, reggae-inspired, and electro-fuelled songs too. These act as quite a contrast, so this may come as a surprise.
Stickers on the CD case for this album read ‘The Queen of all pop in 2008‘ (NME), and ‘A star in the making‘ (The Guardian). Oh well.
Where is Santigold now?
Santigold failed to achieve great success in the UK with this album and the album’s four singles (only one of which charted in the UK), although the album did reach Silver certification.
She returned briefly to the UK charts in 2012 with her second album Master Of My Make-Believe, and reached #96 with one of its three singles – Disparate Youth. The other two failed to chart in the UK.
In 2014 she collaborated with a cosmetics company to create the Santigolden Age.
POP RESCUE 2015 RATING
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 2 / 5
- 2008 UK CHART PEAK: #26, certified Silver.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.99 from an Oxfam store.