Album Review: Santigold’s ‘Master of My Make-Believe’

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Wesleyan alumna Santigold performs Friday, March 16, in Austin, Texas, at Spin magazine's Spinn@Stubbs party.

Santi White didn’t intend to wait so long before releasing the follow-up to her 2008 debut, but it took her a while to adjust to the buzz that washed over “Santogold.”

The hype was deserved: “Santogold” was a forward-looking album that ignored genre distinctions, mixing electro, new-wave and post-punk into a dazzling hybrid, which led to tours with Coldplay and Kanye West. She doesn’t change her sound so much as refine it on “Master of My Make-Believe” (Atlantic), the long-awaited follow-up.

Now performing as Santigold (there were legal complications), the Wesleyan alumna works with a genre-spanning array of collaborators, including musical partner John Hill, Diplo, Switch, Q-Tip and members of TV On the Radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Together, they’ve made an album that is sometimes moodier in tone than its predecessor, though White’s mix of brash confidence and sly humor is very much evident on the speedy, effervescent opener “GO!” and the bass-heavy banger “Freak Like Me.”

The slower songs tend to rely more on texture. Distant drums clatter beneath subtle keyboards, guitar and layers of vocals on “The Riot’s Gone,” and a punchy rhythm sets up a sweeping ’80s-style pop hook on “The Keepers,” a song so catchy that White could have put it on the album twice in a row.

Although the lag between albums allowed the rest of the beat-heavy pop music scene to catch up to Santigold, “Master of My Make-Believe” is nevertheless a distinctive release from an artist whose influence outpaces her profile — at least, so far.

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