Album Review Santigold - Spirituals

Not so much reigniting the spark that drew so many to her sound first time around, but a decent job of drawing a line from old to new and updating it.

Santigold - Spirituals

The internet’s deep-dive into the ‘00s not showing any sign of slowing down would have been enough, but after an iconic Beyoncé shoutout, that Santigold has chosen now to return after a four-year hiatus could well incite the stroke of luck the artist has so far eluded. After a silver-certified debut in 2007’s then-self-titled ‘Santogold’, despite an enviable list of star collaborators - from Jay-Z to David Byrne via Beastie Boys - both 2012’s ‘Master of My Make Believe’ and ‘99¢’, released in 2016, failed to set charts, airwaves, or even playlists alight. Where ‘Spirituals’ - which both marks a return from a four-year break and Santi’s first release as an independent artist - works best, is as reminder and introduction. The cut-and-paste, mixtape ethos that shone through in the first place is still there - ‘Ushers of the New World’ marries this perfectly with the kind of vocal shifts that bring to mind pop pioneers Charli XCX or Grimes and synths that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Purity Ring record. ‘Fall First’ borrows a Joy Division-esque bassline for a beautifully dirgy indie-rock number, while ‘Witness’ lets Santi’s vocal take centre stage, the skittish beats amplifying the funk in her vocal rhythm. It’s also perhaps the track most straightforwardly ‘on theme’ here (the record having been titled for the Black American music of the same name). Yet when appearing to strive for big pop moments - the build of ‘The Lasty’ in particular bringing to mind endless American radio staples - it all falls flat. Not so much reigniting the spark that drew so many to her sound first time around, but a decent job of drawing a line from old to new and updating it.

 

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Santigold cancels North America tour

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“I will not continue to sacrifice myself for an industry that has become unsustainable for, and uninterested in the welfare of the artists it is built upon.”