Friday, May 2, 2008

All That Glitters etc


The cover of Santogold's debut self-titled album features the American singer-songwriter literally vomiting gold glitter. If you're going to use an image to introduce yourself to the listening public then why not that? I make mention of the fact that Santogold is indeed American because upon first listen to her album I thought for sure this girl was British. Or at least European. Or, hell, considering the presense of bhagra beats, maybe Indian?

The sounds that Santogold (aka Santi White) surrounds herself with on the album is the polar opposite of what is "hot" in American right now, but no matter where she is from Santogold is - for this listener, anyway - bound to go down as one of the greatest albums of the last ten years. Yes, it's that good.

Early singles "Creator" and "L.E.S. Artistes" are decent indicators of where the album will take the listener. The former with it's epic tribal beats and the latter with it's stripped back hip-hop. "Creator" is very much in the M.I.A. vein of things, a comparison that was bound to surface with her use of dancefloor beats and underground hip-hop. But the album is more than just another M.I.A. record. There are influences by the likes of The Pixies, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Cure and Bjork. Santogold is one of the rare albums that takes the influences and actually twists them into something altogether new, and doesn't just copy.

When Santogold isn't imploding the dancefloor on tracks like "Shove It" (with it's repeated hook of "we think you're a joke / shove your hope it don't shine") or with the Switch and Senden remix of "You'll Find a Way" (turning an already five-star track into a, i dunno, 7.5 star song?) White is churning out stunning rock pieces.

"I'm a Lady" sounds like The Pixies as fronted by Karen O and you know you've imagined what that would sound like at some point - okay, so maybe you hadn't, but you have now - and the eerie "Anne" ("My name is Anne / I got a plan") with it's werewolf howls (literally, she HOWLS!!) recalls The Cure circa "All Cats Are Grey". "My Superman" is another stellar track, with it's hard dark beats and chorus vocals that glide. Amazing stuff.

The album's major highlight - the jewel in the crown if you will - is the mindblowing "Lights Out". Three minutes of literal perfection. A chorus that sounds like honey over a riff that recalls the greatest moments of '90s indie rock. It's surprising how simply gorgeous "Lights Out" is. In fact, it's surprising how gorgeous the whole album is. For an album that starts it's relationship with the buying public with the image of throwing up glitter it sounds immaculately beautiful, yet Santogold knows when to shed the beauty and just go hell for leather. Santogold is an amazing debut achievement and one I won't soon forget. A


Dave said...

With this and 'How I Met Your Mother', you have just picked up two of my absolute favourite things in the world right now. (That means: you ROCK.)

What's wonderful is how adaptable her voice is: harsh and tough on "Shove It" and, like you said, almost literally honey on "Lights Out". And isn't "Say Aha" just a great anthem?

I won't harp on about how great this album is because you've pretty much said it, but my favourite thing about "Shove It" is the claps and fingersnaps. Now THAT is heaven.

JA said...

Glenn, I downloaded this this morning thanks to your advice - yes, it takes a boy in Australia to get me to listen to a girl from Brooklyn, five minutes from my doorstep - and I can't stop listening to it. Luckily I have this afternoon off from work so I can just bop around the apartment to it. Yay! Thanks, man. You done me right. ;-)

Catherine said...

I'm downloading the album as I type!

JS said...

Downloaded it then came here for your review and I was surprised but elated to read that we share the love for "Lights Out."

What a song! ;-;

Kamikaze Camel said...

Glad you guys all love it!