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Album Review

by M.I.A.


Review Date
6th November 2013
Reviewed by
Paul Larsen

M.I.A. hasn't had the easiest few years. A bitter custody battle, a lawsuit from the NFL and a public stoush with her record label all followed a lukewarm reception to 2010's Maya and conspired to keep her from writing and recording. As great artists will so often do however, she chose instead to turn pain into progress through the creation of album number four, Matangi.

Titled for her own namesake, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, dancing and spoken word, Matangi is as multi-faceted as its inspiration. The frenzied, scattergun production of her previous works prevails but where Maya lacked a knockout blow, Matangi takes you down early and barely lets you get up from the mat.

Released earlier this year, singles 'Bad Girls' and 'Bring the Noise' are both identifiable touchstones with thick jungle and electro beats providing a prickly platform for the acerbic lyrics but look beyond this 'classic M.I.A.' sound though, and the real motivation that went into Matangi begins to show. The dark-pop ballads of 'Exodus' and 'Know It Ain't Right' stand out as moments of clarity amongst the madness while 'Double Bubble Trouble' with its dancehall form, siren calls and endless bass is an electrifying jolt to the system.

Not without its misses, the rhyming structure on 'aTENTion' is torturous enough as to violate the Geneva Convention and there are periods throughout the album when the massive amount of layering can become difficult to penetrate. Overall though, Matangi marks an irresistible return to form from one of today's most original artists.


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