When Santigold emerged in the late 2000s, her hip alterna-pop seemed to waltz out of left field, incorporating elements of every genre she could put her hands on: punk, hip-hop, new wave, dub, and whatever else wasn’t nailed down. More than a decade later, it’s clear to see how her genre-smashing music paved the way toward a new generation of eclectic oddballs, including Charli XCX, Grimes, Lizzo, and even Lemonade-era Beyoncé. While Santigold has never broken through to mega-success herself, she keeps putting out fun records. Her most recent, Spirituals, released on her own Little Jerk label, is her first in four years. It’s smoother and more polished than some of her past work, but she’s still got an ear for a hip-shaking hook (most notably on “Shake”) and a sharp eye for how songs are put together. “My Horror” is a lilting, cheerfully up-tempo love song to her own misery and mental distress. “I can’t feel, it’s like / I’m paralyzed” she sings, before a girl-group chorus kicks in—and then she throws in a tinkling broken-music-box section that recalls Syd Barrett’s insular, broken ditties. “Your time is up / You see we coming,” she says in “Ushers of the New World,” over a slow, churning beat that evokes dub and Billie Eilish—as if to let you know she can still look forward and back at the same time. While the album makes no direct reference to gospel, its exhilarating creativity in the face of sadness and hardship justifies the reference to freedom songs in the title. Santigold’s still here and still great.
Santigold’s Spirituals is available through the artist’s website.