Santigold’s ’99 cents’ worth every penny

Tyler Mead, Staff Reporter

Santigold, besides being an absolute powerhouse of an artist, is a woman of her word. This year at Voodoo Fest, the singer promised her audience two things: donuts and a new album. My donut from that performance is long gone, but her latest album, “99 Cents” is way more satisfying.

“99 Cents” shifts gears from Santigold’s past albums, “Santigold,” released in 2008, and “Master of my Make-Believe,” released in 2012. The artist steered away from her usual heavy beats that brought her huge amounts of love for a lighter, overall upbeat sound. With lyrics as smart as ever, the album offers insane variety while maintaining a cohesive feel, and could easily be the soundtrack for an intimate party among close friends.

Santigold leads off with her single, released at the end of last year, “Can’t Get Enough of Myself.” The title says it all in this ode to some serious self-love. It’s hard not to fall for Santigold all over again when she’s projecting such an appealing air of confidence. Along with “Big Boss Big Time Business,” as track number two, these first tracks serve as the pregame of the album with a fun, moderate pace that builds everyone up.  

The third track, “Banshee,” stands out even on such a solid album. The song was released as a single earlier in February, and definitely deserves recognition as a banger. Even the lyrics have an intensely fun edge to them with lines like, “Let me play with fire tonight. Dancing through the siren alright. Rip it up I’m having a good time.” If there was a single song to buy off “99 Cents” it’d be this one.

“Chasing Shadows,” and “Walking in a Circle” follow the heat from her third track and serve as a cooldown. “Chasing Shadows” takes things down a notch, but still retains the positive energy. It’s also proof that Santigold can pace lyrics like no other. “Walking in a Circle” sounds more quintessentially Santigold since it uses some darker beats, but still feels welcome on the album. The lyrics definitely create a more serious tone, yet it still matches the vibe of her more upbeat sounds.

Now, at the halfway point, things get a little weird in an amazing way. Santigold collaborated with iLoveMakonnen for “Who Be Lovin Me.” The combo of iLoveMakonnen’s haunting, echoing verses with Santigold’s electric sound create one of the most unique songs on the album, and the music video mirrors the crazy fun in the most perfect way possible.

Another twist follows in the form of “Rendezvous Girl.” The song definitely has a Cindy-Lauper-throwback sound to it (especially since the sounds of a cassette tape start it off) and it could not work better. Santigold uses her higher register for the duration of the song with an ’80s pop beat, and the result takes listeners back to a time of legwarmers and neon lycra.  

The tail end of the album includes the tracks “Before the Fire,” “All I Got” and “Outside the War.” Unfortunately, these tracks come across lacking. “Before the Fire’s” lyrics are solid, and the build up to the chorus feels right, there’s not quite the punch the song needed. “All I Got” matches the fun from the first few tracks, but the lyrics are a bit too simplistic. “Outside the War” is probably the best of the three, but sounds a bit too similar to her earlier works, and again doesn’t quite hit the peak it needed to.

“Run the Races,” gets the album back on track. The track’s melancholy sound evokes a sense that things are coming to an end. Seniors might want to steer clear of this track since it will serve as a constant reminder that graduation and the real world grow ever nearer.

Santigold closes with “Who I Thought You Were,” which really ties well into the party analogy. Another song with a slight throwback feel (think Tegan and Sara’s album “Heartthrob”) about giving a close friend a reality check. It sounds poppy, but mixes in that harshness everyone needs from time to time. It leaves listeners smiling as the album ends, eager for more from Santigold.

Considering fans have waited almost four years for this album, Santigold knew the pressure would be on. She absolutely delivered, and the album easily merits an 8 out of 10.

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