I know that I’m not alone among the Popblerd staff in my love of Santi/Santogold’s debut album from 2008. It was a tight and consistent disc, pulling influences from new wave, rock, dancehall and electro. I was so enamored with it, in fact, that I named it my pick for album of the year in 2008.
So it is with great excitement that after four years, we’re getting new music from Santigold. Sure, she’s spent a lot of time in the interim guesting on a slew of tracks by other artists (N.A.S.A., The Very Best, Major Lazer, David Byrne ,and the Beastie Boys to name a few). But Santigold’s sophomore disc Master of My Make Believe will hit shelves sometime this year, and this week, Ms. White gave us our first taste, “Big Mouth.”
When Santigold (then Santogold) initially hit the scene, she was quickly (and I think unfairly) compared to M.I.A. At that point in time, both artists were working in fairly different musical worlds, although they surely had some overlap. But while M.I.A.’s approach was a somewhat militant blending of hip hop and intercultural gumbo, Santigold was much more of a singer, working within more pop- and rock-based idioms (while at the same time pushing the boundaries of those idioms). At the time, it seemed that the comparisons between the the two were made simply because they were both women of color blending various styles of music on the fringes of the pop world.
The irony is that “Big Mouth” very blatantly invites comparisons to M.I.A. in both aural and visual aesthetics. The video projects the sort of frenetic, animated day-glo motif so common in M.I.A.’s videos, album art and web presence. Musically, the song also draws stylistic parallels to M.I.A. – the blend of club bass and layers of more organic percussion, the thick electro synths, even the the chorus recalls some of M.I.A.’s more memorable hooks from her first two albums. My assessment: “Big Mouth” is good, but it doesn’t have the immediate appeal that overflowed from Santigold’s first album. Who knows how indicative this first taste is of the Master of My Make Believe project. We can’t accurately judge a forthcoming album on the basis of one track. That said, “Big Mouth” seems a step back rather than forward for Santi White.