In the four years she’s been absent, every time we’ve thought about Santigold we’ve wondered what her legacy might be. Is she going to be trapped in a time capsule, defined by the incorrigible legacy of LES Artistes and Creator? Or is she going to be remembered as the go-to act to soundtrack adverts, like Disparate Youth?
Neither is exactly a great option, and unfortunately Santi White does very little to sway us in any direction on her new album 99 Cents. If we had to side though, it’s probably the latter – Can’t Get Enough of Myself and Banshee will no doubt already have a boardroom full of suits salivating, with the latter’s tribal-pop sound pretty much the perfect fit for any occasion (except maybe a funeral, obvs). In that respect, she’s more of a triumph here than on her last album; that these songs feel so commercially accessible is a testament to White as a writer, full of hooks that most acts could only dream of.
So why does her identity feel so hard to pin down in the current landscape of pop? Granted, Santogold’s chameleonic ways are no doubt a source of pride for her, but flitting between the reggae-inflected Chasing Shadows to the robo-pop of Walking In A Circle feels a bit of a stretch. What’s clear is that White has plenty of ideas – just look at that overpopulated cover practically bursting out – but they still seem in need of refinement on a full-length record. In that respect, 99 Cents may well define her legacy in a completely new way: that’s about the price of a single, and singles sort of feel the only place where Santogold can shine.