Santigold’s new record is an odd one. It feels like someone grabbed hold of a solid album and then joined all the songs together with the style and creativity of a Radio 4 DJ. In case that’s not clear enough: they absolutely ruined it.
Coo Coo Coo is a wonderful opener and reminder of the great sound Santigold has – her vocals drive the melody while the instruments take a back seat, reminiscent of early hip hop. Run the Road follows abruptly and sounds the closest to early Santigold. There’s maybe a little issue drum programming that starts to highlight a weakness as the song progresses as the we get the same drum fill four or five times.
While the songs are pleasant enough the achilles heel of the album shows itself by the third track. The songs just aren’t allowed to breathe. As we near the end of each song a wibbly LFO electronic ripple interrupts over a sweeping synth pad as the next song starts. It sounds like the nonsense a hospital DJ might do to hide the fact they can’t beatmatch. It’s a real album ruiner and completely kills the enjoyment making it tough to hear the songs on their own. They’ve been fit into a form that doesn’t suit, like a serial killer trying to arrange the severed body parts of his latest kill into the fridge.
It’s a shame as the title track I Don’t Want is a real stand out track. But even that is not safe from being sown into the album’s tapestry of cheap sci-fi sounds from the seventies. It echoes back to Bomb The Bass’ Into The Dragon, but at least on that record they had more than three sound effects and offered variation by using DJ introductions to add texture.
Other highlights are Crashing Your Party and Valley of the Dolls which features a wonderful Lemmings-esque synth tone. After several listens I still can’t tell if there’s a lack of variety here or if there is but the stock sound effects just merge it all together into a familiar mush. Often it feels like whenever Santigold is not singing they felt it was an appropriate time to spunk a load of Dr Who sound effects over the song. I wouldn’t mind so much if there was some variety to it but it’s literally the SAME three sound effects in between every single song on the album. It wears you out and signposts that a song has ended and a new one will start soon.
Maybe I’m being too harsh but try going to Spotify and listen to the first ten seconds of each song. You’ll hear the same wibbly sound effect in those ten seconds at the start of every song. Lunacy.
Santigold’s I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions is available via Downtown Records.