Music » Album Reviews

M.I.A.: Maya

N.E.E.T./XL Recordings

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For the masses that discovered M.I.A. with "Paper Planes," the Sri Lankan musician's third album, Maya, will come as a shock. With songs built around power-tool samples and old punk riffs, it can be a challenging, abrasive listen. The harsh sounds, however, give Maya an angry, youthful energy that make it M.I.A.'s best work to date. By incorporating elements of dubstep, industrial and noise-pop into her already genre-defying sound, she has finally found instrumentals that match her lyrical tone. The Sleigh Bells-sampling "Meds and Feds" and the Rusko-produced "Steppin' Up" are unrelenting bangers that work as well in a mosh pit as they do in a club. Tracks such as "XXXO," "Tell Me Why," and the reggae-tinged "It Takes a Muscle" are welcome Auto-Tuned reprieves that hearken back to her previous electro-pop efforts. The album closer "Space" is a career high point, combining M.I.A.'s harsh new sound with her pop sensibilities in a beautiful piece of electro-psychedelica. (5 out of 5 stars)

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