Santigold Santogold

After a fruitless job working A&R for Epic and two albums with her ska/punk band Stiffed (both produced by Bad Brains’ Darryl Jenifer) that failed to break on through, Santi White regrouped as a solo artist, wrote songs for Res, Lily Allen and Ashlee Simpson, and branded herself Santogold. Her long-awaited eponymous debut finds the Philadelphian breaking the middle ground between the global sound clashes of her pal M.I.A. and Gwen Stefani’s fashionably saccharine pop, though it feels unfair to say she’s in debt to either artist, even though she frequently uses the former’s producer/confidante Switch here. Santogold seems to just follow her instinct with each song, be it the hip twist on dub with Spank Rock on "Shove It” or the soft indie touch of "Lights Out.” If there’s a weakness it’s in sequencing her album to be a little top-heavy, as the second half loses steam like it was recovering from the first half’s burst of energy. Judging by all of the endorsements — videogame soundtracks, beer ads — and tours with Björk and Coldplay, we’ve still got a lot more to hear from White, who will no doubt get even more creative and have bigger name collaborators on board from here on in. (Downtown/Warner)