Incredible as it seems it’s been three years since Maya Arulpragasam, or M.I.A., turned critics heads around the world with her last album Kala and found herself flung into stardom overnight with the unexpected smash hit Paper Planes. This month she returns with her third studio album /\/\ /\ Y /\ (Maya), that has had critics and fans alike chewing their fingers to bloody stumps in anticipation since tracks found their way onto the net several months back.
As is usual, with this new album M.I.A. takes a wide variety of genres, launches them into oncoming traffic and attempts to work lyrics and samples over the resulting noise. The more notable evolution in her work is this record’s big step into the dub scene, and it makes for a much heavier and more industrial sound, strengthening the in your face style that has seen her plastered all over American tabloids in recent weeks.
For an artist who has risen to fame on a wave of controversy, it isn’t surprising that through Maya a variety of controversial topics are dissected including terrorism, war, corporate control and capitalist principles. Unfortunately as the album progresses it becomes increasingly likely that M.I.A. is not the revolutionary dissident she longs to be, instead sounding more like an arrogant kid from down the street, desperately trying to piss people off for the sheer sake of it by throwing together iconoclastic statements with samples of chainsaws and arguing that it has a deep and profound point.
Unlike most follow up albums the record really finds its feet as it progresses and the second half of the album far outshines the opening, with tracks such as It Takes A Muscle, Born Free and album closer Space really proving that M.I.A. is a lot smarter than those hoods on the corner, she just doesn’t want you to know it.
M.I.A. releases Maya on 12th July through XL Recordings. You can stream the awesome video for album track ‘Born Free’ below.