“Chasing Shadows” is about the conflicted reality of an artist’s life. Caught in the web we spin around ourselves, a mixture of hubris and the guise of perfection, we fear being swallowed up by our own ambition. Never in the moment, as quickly as we reach our goals, our gaze shifts to those still looming in the distance. We judge ourselves harshly for not being further on the path and revel in the anxiety of racing the rate of consumption. The lyrics weigh the value of going against the current to maintain artistic integrity, and the feelings of isolation and vacancy bred by a persona that is always “on” and ready for show.
That’s Santigold on her newest song, “Chasing Shadows,” which debuted Sunday on BBC’s Radio 1. It’s the third single she’s released in anticipation of her upcoming album, 99¢, which will be her first since 2012’s Master of My Make-Believe.
There are jams that create a mood, and then there are jams that melt seamlessly into the mood you’re already in, giving a sound and a steady beat to a feeling that might otherwise be mistaken for neutral. I can’t guarantee you’ll feel the same about “Chasing Shadows,” but for me, it’s the exact right mix of bright and dreamy, twinkling and thumping, to give a new sheen and shape to the thoughts I already have while carefully navigating a sidewalk at eight AM or sitting alone at the kitchen table watching the sunset fade into deep blue. The lyrics are difficult but not impossible to follow, slant rhymes stumbling and stuttering one after another, a mind trying to catch up with itself – watching through the window, flashing light on the bed / neon sign was red / you are here, it says; well, at least someone knows where I am – but it doesn’t feel frantic. Santigold is clear and purposeful in the articulation of her meaning, even when that fundamental meaning is uncertainty.
The video, out yesterday, is a dream-world of dark supersaturated color and flickering TV light, populated only by a languid Santigold who slowly grows to fill the little rooms that house her. Given her statement, it’s hard to watch the video and not see a visual representation for the creative process: a mind, left alone for a long time, swells to fill its confines and infuses the mundane with new vivid intensity. Hopefully, the rest of the results look a lot like this.
99¢ is out February 26th.