Reviews M.I.A. /\/\ /\ Y /\ (MAYA)

M.I.A.

/\/\ /\ Y /\ (MAYA)

The hipsterati and the New York Times may have set their sights on MIA but, frankly, I don’t have the time to care what she eats during an interview. Besides, her music is largely a studio product anyway, which gives it an insulating layer from its creator’s personality. <i>Maya</i> is the Indo-British singer’s third record and her first since becoming a bona fide superstar with “Paper Planes.” The aftermath of a big hit, after all, is the big fall.

So does Maya hold up to its predecessor Kala? More or less. While it’s lacking discernable singles, the consistency is far greater and MIA’s songcraft feels more confident in her approach. Mixing various world sounds has been her repertoire since Day One, but the blends are smoother here. The biggest difference is largely in production—after hitting number one, the studio opened the checkbook and it shows. Her singing is more confident than on previous records, and there’s a big 1980s production that gives it more of a pop art feel. Despite the negative press of late, she sticks with her common theme: pop culture with an underlayer of revolutionary flair. There’s also a diss track that, um, isn’t very good (see comments on the “Deluxe” Edition below).

MIA’s work is done in the studio: mixing and sampling sounds, changing up time signatures, and layering over singsong refrains. Thus, it’s no surprise that the songs jump around in consistency and influence. The first single, “Born Free” pulls from early 80s noise and features driving beats and a hard edge. Meanwhile, “It Takes a Muscle” sounds of British reggae. The unification between these varied tones is a persistent, bass-heavy dance beat coupled with MIA’s sing-song choruses. If there is any single element to take away from Maya, it is a modern club record that dearly misses the days of synthesizers and a somewhat interesting Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.

This would deserve a higher rating were it not for the Deluxe Edition, which adds four throwaway tracks that lack in production and content and feel entirely tacked on to make an extra buck. They undermine the consistency of the original record and end on a dull note.

7.0 / 10Loren
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7.0 / 10

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