Frontwoman Santi White has taken on the face of Santigold for Master of My Make-Believe, as depicted in the album's artwork, which finds her portraying all four characters (even the mustached man that sits front and center). John Hill continues to co-write, but with White gaining pop star status, he takes the back seat, as they enlist the help of A-list producers Diplo, Switch, Boyz Noise, Buraka Som Sistema, TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, Ricky Blaze, and Q-Tip. Multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin (Beck, Flaming Lips) and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs also make a huge impact on the sound of the record, with Karen O contributing vocals on the leadoff "Go!" and Nick Zinner scattering delicious guitar texture across the tracks. MOMMB is a thickly crafted album that took four years to complete. At surface value, it isn't drastically different than the debut, but it's never predictable. Instead of delivering an album's worth of bangers like "Say Aha," "You'll Find a Way," and "L.E.S. Artistes," Santigold expands on downtempo dub and pop ballads like "Shove It" and the commercial crossover hit "Lights Out." Fans of those songs will enjoy the synth reggae fusion of "Pirate in the Water" and the severely catchy hooks of "Disparate Youth." When not dabbling in reggae (like on the Beastie Boys album cameo "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win"), White -- whose favorite band is appropriately the Smiths -- continues to be masterful at appropriating sparkling '80s arrangements, as seen in "The Keepers," a slick song that swipes a melody line from "Little Red Corvette" and incorporates a theme once explored by Talking Heads ("While we sleep, our house is burning down"). Preoccupations with fame and how Santigold are perceived by critics and peers are still common concerns, explored in the fiery Hollertronix album closers, but even when White's taunting and teasing, she appears to be in control, and comfortable with her role as a pop artist. This is the kind of album that can fully define her sound, but is still multifaceted and well crafted enough to be exciting. While that's no guarantee that the sophomore outing will be as huge a hit as Santigold's breakout, at least it's proof positive that Santi White is settling in for a long ride. ~ Jason Lymangrover
Rolling Stone (p.68) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[A]n impeccably fashioned art-pop hodgepodge: hopped-up dance rock, dub clatter, turbulent post-punk ballads."
Entertainment Weekly (p.70) - "MASTER's disgruntles machine-raging and spiky new-wave rhythms evoke both the urgency of early U2 and the agit-pop ire of M.I.A. -- while delivering more direct danceability than either." -- Grade: B+
Alternative Press (p.84) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "White and her co-conspirators craft a few cutting-edge convulsions for the clubs, like the masterfully minimal 'Fame' and 'Big Mouth.'"
Magnet (pp.51-52) - "MASTER OF MY MAKE BELIEVE finds the Philly-born singer refining and evolving her singular blend of post-punk, post-dance, world-influenced party rockers, creating an even more esoteric, and yet -- oddly enough -- more accessible record than her debut."
Billboard (p.30) - "[T]he two near-ballads that sit in the middle of the collection -- 'This Isn't Our Parade' and 'The Riot's Gone' -- are the deal-sealers, urgent confessionals that nonetheless bloom slowly and delicately., using pan flutes, vibes, snare drums and Santigold's unadorned delivery to tell their stories."
Q (Magazine) (p.110) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "White is a great stylist. She can do blind rage as succinctly as knowing pop."