16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Arular was no fluke!,
This review is from: Kala (Audio CD)
nearly three years on from her wild debut album Arular (and her mixtape with Diplo) M.I.A. has, with Kala, proven that she is an artist of great creativity and substance. With these new songs she has created an equally provocative record as her debut, if not more so, as this album melds more styles together in more unusual ways. Opener Bamboo Banga sets the scene and has the listener hooked as soon as the pulsing ragga rhythms take hold. "M.I.A. is coming back with POWER POWER!" she chants, over a tinny bollywood sample, and she is certainly right. The next track is Bird Flu, a song I liked but didn't quite know what to make of when it first dropped several months ago over the internet, but in the context of the album it makes alot more sense and segues well into Switch produced BOYZ, her current single, which is surely one of her best tracks and an absolutely huge stomping piece of work. 'Jimmy' is a cover of a classic Bollywood tune from Disco Dancer and adds a touch of tongue in cheek light heartedness to all the thumping clanging beats and viscerally eclectic instrumentation. As the album progresses the scope becomes yet wider, with didgeridoo-based raps(Mango Pickle Down River featuring the Wilcannia Mob, whose rapping is delightful, resulting in a playful collaboration), dub-step influenced mash-ups of classic rock tunes ('blue monday' meets 'where is my mind' both go together into a dark and intense melting pot to create 20 Dollar), stabbing synths and rolling rhythms (XR2) and her trademark political poetry. Further collaborations are with Afrikan Boy (raucous synthplosion 'Hussel') and Timbaland (the sleek album closer 'Come Around) add yet more diverse influences to an already busy album, yet it never gets too much. The best track is without doubt the anthemic soaring Paper Planes, a satirical look at the arms trade, yet also a banging hip-hop tune (quite literally)
Everything flies together well, although it is all a little overwhelming at first and may take a few listens to all fall into place, given the scope and eclecticism. It's not quite as ground breaking at first as Arular, but then again, that's a tough act to follow. And you soon realize that it is just as impressive an album but in different ways. Maya Arulpragasam has obviously honed her talent, rising triumphantly above hype proving herself as a true artist with a developed style that sounds like so many different influences at once yet defiantly her own. The album is a new direction yet still has the in-your-face audacity and vibrancy she has become famous for, experimental without being detrimental, this is a seriously cool tropical roller coaster of psychedelic sound.