Album Review

Master of My Make-Believe

Master of My Make-Believe

By Santigold

Atlantic Records/Warner Music
7.8 / 10
8th May 2012

By Gareth Meade


If there’s one thing that Santigold made clear on her debut album, it’s that she has no use for gimmicks. The album is a collection of strong ideas, cherry picked from a wide range of genres, which have been morphed into perfect pop songs. All of which have endured remarkably well during the four years it has taken to receive her follow up, Master of My Make-Believe. That extended period of time is of course noticeable on first listen, but only due to a shift in perspective, rather than a loss of quality.

Making the point upfront, ‘Go’ opens the album with an ominous bassline, foreshadowing a defiance of expectations. Difficult to pigeonhole, the track features Santi’s chirpy chant over militant percussion that drives it towards its finale, via a guest verse from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Karen O. There’s a lot going on, which serves to intentionally wrong-foot the listener before the more familiar ‘Disparate Youth’ helps to re-orientate. Part of the reason lies in the contributing writers and producers on Make-Believe. ‘Go’ has no less than seven writers credited, with three in the producers’ chair. Comparatively, ‘Disparate Youth’ has three to one.

Of those contributors, Nick Zinner (another Yeah Yeah Yeah) makes a strong impression on two of the albums more restrained tracks. ‘This Isn’t Our Parade’ and ‘The Riot’s Gone’ are an oasis of calm amongst harder hitting fare such as ‘Freak Like Me’ and ‘Look at These Hoes’. TVOTR’s Dave Sitek also makes an appearance, producing the hell out of the chorus of ‘Fame’ and adding more than a little of his day jobs’ wall-of-sound resonance.

The album tends to trade edge for hooks throughout, but where it does make concessions towards the pop aesthetic, it’s not without a hint of defiance. ‘The Keepers’ has a big bright singalong chorus, which is only accessible via the minimalist verses. Interestingly, the deluxe edition bonus track ‘Never Enough’ is the closest Make-Believe gets to a ‘Lights Out’ and is almost certainly from the same era. Hearing the track serves to remind the listener of Santigold’s masterful hold over the form. If Make-Believe does lack anything, it’s definitely these moments.

But it’s nice to see an artist resist compromise. You never doubt that this is the album Santigold wanted to make and it’s her personality that shines brightest amongst the many contributors. Best of all, she doesn’t hide behind elaborate costumes, fake personas or desperate rebellion to deliver her art. Master of My Make-Believe is first and foremost about the songs, which is the way it should always be.






comments
Related
See more from Santigold



Album Review Homepage
Go to reviews home
Reviews - Latest