It’s silly to hand out superlatives this early into 2012, but Santigold deserves one nevertheless: Most Surprisingly Awesome Comeback. (As opposed to the many least surprisingly awesome comebacks, or surprisingly un-awesome, or unsurprisingly un-awesome… you get the idea.) In 2011, Santi White had a pretty good debut album nevertheless relegated to “sounds like Santigold” comparisons and the stray likening to M.I.A. This year came her album cycle–finally–which began with “Big Mouth,” a pretty great song only sliiiightly marred by kinda-sorta-shade, and continues with the even better “Disparate Youth,” reportedly the first single.
We’ve given away our bolt rating, haven’t we? Listen below, and you’ll probably agree.
“Disparate Youth” is stuffed full of parts, all pristine– the antsy synth and piano, nag of a bassline, guitar shudder like something out of a similarly jittery, similarly New Wave Lonelady song, a percussion loop like rocks falling over one another. The trick’s how they cancel each other out. Every individual piece shakes with kinetic energy, but together, they’re collected, almost calm–if you don’t notice this early on, you will toward the end when a pad settles over the track like a cloud. It’d make a fantastic, moody instrumental; surely someone’s already doing that work.
A fantastic instrumental, of course, would miss the point. Santi’s vocal presence needs little reintroduction; her voice here’s halfway between droll and sneering, almost too cool for the tune. It’s something like an anthem, as you probably imagined from the title, the sort with lines like “we know that we want more, a life worth fighting for” repeated until they can’t help becoming mantras. “Anthem” is a loose word here, mind you; the track broods more than it galvanizes, doesn’t steel itself but fades out But if anything, that’s more timely; Santi’s probably speaking for lots of people–or, more to the point, lots of future fans.