Santigold‘s third record 99¢ (also, 99 cents) is a thought-provoking and empowering satire of consumerism achieved in a twofold manner through both lighthearted dance-pop staples and darker more pensive tracks. On her first album in four years, Santigold remains as genre-bending as usual with a pop that hooks us with occasional rap bursts, reggae vocals and steady beats.

’99¢’ by Santigold Album Review

The themes of the album attempt to provide a critical perspective on commercialization as a whole. The album’s cover, therefore, where the songstress is as if shrink-wrapped in a colorful arrangement priced at just under a dollar, speaks volumes to her project. Collaborating with artists and producers including ILoveMakonnen, Hit-Boy and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, Santi White delivers a cultural message about empowerment that is as relevant as it is liberating.

Throughout the album, the singer outlines various superficial, phony and plastic personas that speak through her songs. Tracks like the opener “Can’t Get Enough of Myself” as well as the consequent “Big Boss Big Time Business” and “Banshee” are fun, self-aware and sarcastic. They and invite the listeners to just dance it out their issues on the dancefloor.

After its explosive beginning, the album becomes more toned down and lethargic. Santigold pairs up with rapper ILoveMakonen for the unapologetic hip-hop ballad “Who Will Be Loving Me.” The last few tracks take a slightly darker and more weighty turn with songs like “Before The Fire” and “Outside The War.” Santigold makes some bold choices that add character and depth to the record. On “Run The Races” Santigold sounds somber and lyrical over slow beats and building electric guitar riffs. Her explosive vocals on the chorus, reminiscent of an unlikely sonic blend between Sia and MS MR, resonate with emotion, gradually building up to a cathartic resolution.

Santigold returns after a four-year hiatus with a record that breaks ground with a satirical outlook and a powerful message. Her music is approachable and pleasant while it still remains surprising and anti-mainstream.

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