Don't be confused by its title: 99¢, Santigold's third album, still sells for the standard $9.99 price point on services like iTunes. But that colourful artwork — designed in collaboration with vacuum-pack artist Haruhiko Kawaguchi, overflowing with trinkets both musical and mundane and slapped with a bargain-bin sticker — does suggest the commoditization and devaluing of recorded music in an era now dominated by low-cost (or no-cost) streaming.
Appropriate, then, that 99¢ feels like the most playlist-ready album of Santigold's career; it bounds from sound to sound with an even greater genre curiosity and diversity than her 2008 debut. Some of the album's more adventurous tracks — the Knife-echoing vocal pitching of "Walking in a Circle," the slow-burning balladry of "Run the Races" — are among its most satisfying, as are more comfortable offerings like upbeat power-pop closer "Who I Thought You Were."
Songs stuck somewhere between the two extremes, like the sleepy ILOVEMAKONNEN collab "Who Be Lovin Me," don't fare quite as well, and there's nothing here quite as indelible as the likes of past anthems "L.E.S. Artistes" or "Disparate Youth." 99¢ is an album buoyed by its sonic playfulness, but which fails to shake its playlist sensibility —  entertaining, engaging but only occasionally leaving a lasting impression. (Warner)
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