Things we didn't know about four years ago: Spotify, Lady Gaga, PlayGround, the Llevant Stage at Primavera Sound, “Waka Waka”, Lana Del Rey; that M.I.A could look posh in a Madonna video and that R&B was going to be gobbled up by David Guetta. That was the state of things when Santi White's debut album “Santogold” came out. In the four years she subsequently took to create the follow-up, she modified her stage name (a guaranteed and irritating source of errors for future archivists) and she cut the artistic ties with John Hill: his name is credited on just three songs on the new album.
The start of “Master Of My Make-Believe” couldn't be more promising. The urgency of the beat of “GO!”, co-written by Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zimmer and produced by Switch, accompanies a declaration of intent that sounds like self-assertiveness rather than a justification: take it easy and you'll remain. “Do you forget my basis / Want to go long, to go long / You must go slow”, she sings. The excitement continues with the single, “Disparate Youth”, a pop gem on which White once more displays the melodic talent she showed on “L.E.S. Artistes” and “Lights Out”.
However, that energy is not be repeated throughout the rest of the album, where Santigold's eclectic personality gets diluted among decent tribal tracks ( “Freak Like Me”), reggae-pop ( “Pirate In The Water”), standard bubble-gum choruses ( “The Keepers”, recorded with the ubiquitous Greg Kurstin) and disappointing displays of fierceness like “Look At These Hoes”: if there's one thing we didn't need to know it's that Santigold can't stand in the shadow of Nicki Minaj in certain registers. The calmer moments are the most memorable ones, when she exercises one of her strongest points: the pop ballad with a twist. “God From The Machine”, “This Isn’t Our Parade” and, particularly, “The Riot’s Gone” are good reasons to trust Santigold will end up finding the place she's claiming on the schizophrenic and broken present pop scene.