Santogold is done a bit of a disservice by the weighty hype surrounding it, though. While the album is incredibly fun, it’s not nearly as innovative as the blogosphere would have you believe. While there is a definite jambalaya of punk, dancehall, and new wave, this basically adds up to mid-90s ska with 2008 technology backing it up.
Adding to this feeling of déjà vu are the moments on the album when singer Santi White’s voice is a dead ringer for a young Gwen Stefani’s. Granted, this isn’t constant or even particularly off-putting. But it does stand in contrast to the claims of innovation bandied around both in the press and often in the lyrics. The majority of tracks on this album would be completely “radio friendly” if not for all the pitch-bended synths and chopped-up vocals.
Perhaps the lowest point of the album is the song “My Superman,” if only because it sounds eerily like Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Red Light” from 1980. Santogold is an artist who wears her influences on her sleeve (the constant comparisons to M.I.A., for example, are a bit overstated but not without basis) and generally manages to personalize them. But “My Superman” feels a bit lazy and obvious.
Beyond this, the album’s biggest crime is starting off a bit too strong. The finest moment, “L.E.S. Artistes” is also the first track, rendering some of the songs in the latter half of the disc a bit forgettable. But on the whole, Santogold is a fantastic piece of summertime pop with enough interesting tricks and catchy hooks to keep you content till fall.