When I heard “Creator,” I didn’t want to like her. Sure, it was good…but that’s M.I.A.’s territory! So, I neglected to listen to her debut album for many weeks. Finally, I decided to check out her video for “L.E.S. Artistes,” which came out recently. Only now do I realize that my criticism was unjust–she’s much more than the follow-up act I assumed she was trying to be.

With Gwen Stefani ska-like vocal stylings, the Yeah Yeah Yeah‘s warbling, crashing sounds, some Blondie, some reggae, the M.I.A. experimentalist beats, and a handful of tricks of her own, Santogold is the new big thing; she’s different, exciting, and promising. Her debut is an eclectic collection of the above–never too much of the same, the songs are complexly varied in their styles, speeds, and sounds.

The lead off tracks (which happen to offer the greatest departures of the album as well), “You’ll Find A Way” and “L.E.S. Artistes” are raw, biting indie-pop gems, full of explosive energy. “Unstoppable,” the reggae-tinged electro drifter, and “Creator” offer the clearest lines of symmetry to M.I.A.’s work, though they’re thankfully not perfectly exact. Then there’s “My Superman” and “Starstruck” which both move at a near snail-like pace, though they’re nothing short of hauntingly paced mind-fucks. The bonus track album closer, “You’ll Find A Way (Switch & Seiden Remix)” is an amazing reinterpretation of the original–converting the song’s original indie-rock flavor into unforgivably hard-hitting, guns blazing electro warfare. In short, there’s never a dull moment.

Playful, carefree, and explosive, the debut holds a lot of promise…I’m a big fan, plain and simple. I think the aspect I like most about Santogold is her sound…or lack thereof. She’s not any artist in particular, as evidenced within this album. She bounces around between genres, combining and stripping down, but never actually conforming to a specific niche. Come in with no expectations, and leave without labeling it, because you can’t. So do yourselves a favor and check out her MySpace here, as well as the video for “L.E.S. Artistes” below.

And if you can’t get enough, listen to the remix of “You’ll Find A Way” that I spoke of below. Heaven!