[There’s often more behind the discovery of an album than just the music. Here’s S. Ziggy Zagami’s review of Santogold’s eponym album ‘Santogold’. If you would like to share your One album – One story, we’d love to post it.]
Review by By S. Ziggy Zagami.
I hear her while I am at the movies, while I am watching TV and I heard her the other day while I was shopping, although admittedly I was in HMV and it shouldn’t have been surprising. The first single
presented itself with a strong beat reminiscent of 80’s pop and is indicative of the rest of the album (it was ranked #2 Best Single of the Year by Rolling Stone and the album was ranked #6 in the 50 Best Albums of 2008).
However, what really attracted me to Santogold in this song is her voice which sounds like a restrained yell. When this song was getting a lot of air time I was working on a HBO miniseries and on one particular day had stalled a truck mounted generator on a steep hill. It was a busted old truck with a shit gearbox and I just could not find a low enough gear to make it up the hill. Sitting there trying to be calm and get going again as swiftly as possible, my insides felt like they were performing their own brand of restrained screaming. And I remember later that day hearing another Santogold single,
which has a smooth jive that will just melt your worries away.
As Santogold sung “Darling/Don’t got to worry, you’re locked in tight”, my previous anxiety was dispelled. Certainly, there are a number of songs on this album which will soothe your troubles, such as:
an unrelenting pop song with perhaps a tinge of punk influence and easy hook to sing along to “say aha”.
has also definitely picked me up while exhausted on a drive home, with its mash-up of hip-hop and dance music that combine well for this fun song.
I first heard a sound bite of her on the radio where she described how her vocals would at one instant be soft and quiet and then the next she’d be yelling at the top of her register. This difference in oft changing tone and pace appealed to me. It reminds me of a friend who once exclaimed that a particular album was “music for people with ADD”. I often find that this is the type of music I am drawn to as I posses somewhat of a very short attention span, possibly an undiagnosed ADD.
So anyways, what can I say about Santogold and her self-titled debut album – it’s a funny name that a lot of people seem to struggle with. Her real name is Santi White and Santogold was supposedly a nickname given to her by a friend. Santogold’s music is clearly inspired by 1980’s pop trends. She admits that she “felt that a lot of pop music from the ’80s had a depth to it” and that shes hopes “to bring back some more good pop songs.” Santogold is also inspired by New Wave, Punk and Reggae music, including performers such as the Pixies, Bad Brains, Blondie, Devo, Grace Jones, Fela Kuti, James Brown and Aretha Franklin. It is surely this diverse mixture that would sum up her sound and get her compared to her contemporaries, such as M.I.A. However, while people may want to pigeonhole artists like Santogold and M.I.A as creating a certain genre of music, the words to describe this genre certainly fail me, as it seems clear their eclectic mix of tastes has led them to create music that is entirely their own.
Santogold’s hopes surely have come true, she has managed “to bring back some more good pop songs” over the past year. You’ve most likely already heard her on commercials and films. Maybe you didn’t know it was her, maybe you’re already all over her or maybe you think she is too pop or too kitsch. But it is clear that you will be taking notice of her in the future.