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Santigold: Master of My Make-Believe (Atlantic) 

The people who might have the most trouble connecting with Santigold's new album are her fans, especially those who spent a lot of time with her 2008 debut, Santogold. That album had an immediacy and emphasis on song structure and hooks that Master of My Make-Believe does not.

This is a more-experimental effort; there's no true parallel to "I'm a Lady" here. But without the baggage of comparison to her earlier efforts, this new album has a lot to offer, though it may require a bit more patience.

"The Keepers" may be the album's most-overt pop song, and it's notable for having the most "political" message to it: "While we sleep in America, our house is burning down," Santi White sings.

Then, "Freak Like Me" and "Look at These Hoes" seem like sentiments better suited to the new Nicki Minaj album, and it's fascinating to see White experimenting with these new sides to her persona—something harder, a bit more street, and certainly more self-aggrandizing.

Master was recorded in part in Jamaica, and the Caribbean vibe her music has always had is cranked up a bit more, like on "Disparate Youth" or "God From the Machine." But it also imbues the album with a summery quality that lightens its darker elements.

Master of My Make-Believe is a rewarding album to spend time with, perfect for the long, hot days and nights of summer ahead.

More by Sean Bottai

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