As an M.I.A. fan, it feels like I’ve been waiting eons to hear a satisfying amount of new material from the London rapper and singer. Fortunately, Matangi doesn’t disappoint.
This album has been a long time in the making, and is quite a departure from her last noise-heavy release, 2010’s /\/\ /\ Y /\. I’ve always found M.I.A. (née Maya Arulpragasam) to be at her best when she’s catchy and upbeat, and Matangi captures quite a few of these moments. Tracks like “Walk With Me” and “Double Bubble Trouble” are playful, and both feature incongruous (but enjoyable) Bollywood-esque breakdowns.
It seems that M.I.A. has only grown bolder in the years since /\/\ /\ Y /\: “Walk With Me” references the classic “Bamboo Banga,” but this time includes the unmistakable camera sounds of Apple’s Photo Booth program.
Some of M.I.A.’s previous work has tried too hard to be serious or unpalatable; but, surprisingly, Matangi is a lot of fun. “Only One You”—produced by the singer herself—may not be this year’s “Paper Planes,” but it’s dance-evoking and features chantable, computer-altered vocals.
In contrast, menacing album opener “Karmageddon” and sexy groove “Know It Ain’t Right” show a more mature, evolved side to M.I.A.’s repertoire—instead of being low points in the album, they are evocative and compelling.
The one qualm I have with the album is that I’m not entirely sure what the difference between “Sexodus” and “Exodus” is: both tracks sample Canadian crooner The Weeknd, and one features more helicopter noises than the other…but that’s about it. Either way, I can’t really complain: M.I.A. has delivered—this time.