Santigold: 99 Cents | Virgin Media
Santigold: 99 Cents

Santigold: 99 Centsby Matthew Horton | Rating: ★★★

22/01/2016Music

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Philadelphia's Santi White has had a hard time of it, having to change her original name Santogold for fear of legal action and enduring the sight of initial buzz failing to translate into commercial success. Will her third album find her on the up? It's got potential.

That said, while there are obvious singles on 99 Cents, they aren't the actual singles that have been released. Those were Chasing Shadows, an understated bit of dancehall with a jittery electronic pulse, and Who Be Lovin Me, a skanking R&B slow jam featuring rapper iLoveMakonnen that worms into your ear but feels inconsequential.

White is far more likely to hit paydirt with her out-and-out pop numbers. Opening track Can't Get Enough Of Myself is a blast – crunching, bopping calypso with a side order of charming braggadocio

If I wasn't me/I can be sure I'd want to be/I'm pretty major and I say it out loud

– and right at the end of the album she finds the mark again with new-wave belter Who I Thought You Were, an 80s sound-alike you could imagine The Strokes recording.

If White can harness the appeal of those two songs, she may yet sneak into the wider public consciousness, but it's what's in between that holds her back. Walking In A Circle is tin-pot dubstep, Rendezvous Girl is throwaway electro-pop and Before The Fire manages to make clattering tribal drums sound dull – each halts the pace of an album that only comes alive sporadically.

Its bookending tracks aside, just the ghostly post-punk of Outside The War and the crunking, playful Big Boss Big Time Business pull 99 Cents into sharp focus. Too much of the rest lacks direction, which may well be White's problem in a nutshell.