Ladygunn Reviews: Santigold / Garbage / Beach House

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Atlantic Records (2012)

Santigold inspires the listener to dance, on Master of My Make-Believe. There’s an in your face electronic pop sound with drum strength and plenty of attitude. Instantaneously, the first few tracks create a desire to listen to the album from start to finish without jumping to the next track prematurely. These tracks include “GO!” featuring vocals by Karen O and guitars by Nick Zinner (both from Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and “Disparate Youth”.
With the same power as we’re used to from Santigold, there are moments on this album that are reminiscent of Beyonce’s “Run The World”. This makes sense since some of Santigold’s contributing producers, Diplo and Switch, also members of Major Lazer had their song “Pon de Floor” sampled on “Run The World, a significant factor in that memorable sound. Other featured producers on Santigold’s follow-up to her 2008 debut, such as Q-Tip, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Boys Noize, and Greg Kurstin add interesting variety throughout the album.
Master of My Make-Believe is fun, reflective, and perfect as a soundtrack to the current generation and pop culture climate. There are hip-hop undertones that cascade into rap on “Freak Like Me”, a slower, yet fun groove on “The Keepers”, while the album wraps up on a wild note with “Big Mouth”. Through the many different drum sounds and funky vocals with assertive lyrics, Santigold engages us with stylish and powerful magnetism.


Stunvolume (2012)

After seven years since their last album, Garbage has returned with Not Your Kind of People. Released on their own record label Stunvolume, they were free to be purely creative without submitting to the pressures of others. Releasing material true to their style, Shirley Manson’s voice is in top form with her sumptuously rich tone. The rest of the band comprised of musicians and producers, Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker, heavily add to the remarkable style of Garbage and Not Your Kind of People, filling it with electronic rock-pop.
With outstanding songs like “Control” and “I Hate Love”, as usual, Shirley creates lyrics that so many can identify with. It’s as though all the musical creativity as a band stored up within them for the past seven years is massively exhaled on the chorus to the song “Battle In Me”. This was the first song written for this album, which is credited as the catalyst for creating Not Your Kind of People.
“Control” is by far the best track on the album. From the song’s introduction with the lyrics, “Maybe I’ll look you in the eye, tell you, you don’t want to die/ Maybe I’ll hold my breath and jump right in” to the instrumentally heavy powered chorus that eventually explodes into a flight of distortion, it is strong from beginning to end. “I Hate Love”, an upbeat dance track, includes, “Love promises nothing and then your love dies.” These songs wrap around downtempo ones like the title track, and “Beloved Freak”, an ode to those feeling weak and alone, reminding them that, “The world is at your feet”. With Not Your Kind of People, Garbage has made their ultimate statement and have bewitched us yet again.


Sub Pop (2012)

In a music culture where female vocals are commonly soprano, Beach House’s Victoria Legrand is a delight with her heavenly breathy contralto. It’s a rare beauty. On their fourth album Bloom, their expected dream pop style has returned, maintaining its youthful energy, creating their best album to date. Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally make a perfect musical force.

I immediately wanted to curl up into the happy sadness that is the opening track, “Myth”. It’s something special when you can listen to a song all the way through enjoying it completely. It was only topped by the following song, “Wild” with its slightly more upbeat tone, partially in thanks to the drums which on some songs are drowsier. There is also such gorgeous power to the chorus on the last time it comes in with, “Harmless to say we go, go on pretending”. “New Year” is another stand out song with a lush softness without sacrificing the groove. The line, “We keep these promises, these promises” sounds so effortless.
There is a nice ebb and flow in the track sequence. The entire album almost feels like a spiritual experience with Victoria’s voice and the smokey blue gray sounds of the keys and the guitar. The dreamscape of Bloom is impeccable and irresistible.

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