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July 19, 2010 | by  | in Music |
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/\/\ /\ Y /\—M.I.A.


/\/\ /\ y /\ (or MAYA) is M.I.A. post-‘Paper Planes’ and living in America, trying to reconcile her indie-cred with her newfound mainstream-pop fame. She reaches to dancehall, old-school punk and dubstep for sonic inspiration, but what prevails here is the “digital ruckus”: the clicks, the beeps, the tapping of keyboards, the sound of internet connections that abound on the record. The opening lines “Google connected to the Government” are laughable rather than her usually thought-provoking commentary. (Maybe her album’s spelt like that so the CIA can’t Google her!) I’d like to think she’s more intelligent than this, and it feels like she’s been forced into a corner of being ‘political’.

Sometimes this works, like when she describes the mindset that can lead to terrorism on ‘Lovalot’: “I won’t turn my cheek like I’m Ghandi/ I fight the ones that fight me”. Sometimes it doesn’t, like the uncreative use of a Sleigh Bells sample on ‘Meds and Feds’, where she repeatedly shouts “I just give a damn!” There are still some good tunes though—‘Steppin Up’ sees Maya doing her usual call to arms opening track, following in the spirit of ‘Pull up the People’ and ‘Bamboo Banga’. “You know who I am, I run this fucking club” she repeats over an actual chainsaw and metal guitar chugs. On ‘Space’ she finally unplugs the cords that inhabit the rest of the album, for MAYA’s most serene moment. “My lines are down, you can’t call me”. It’s relief, not frustration she feels. For someone so attached to their Twitter account, she could probably use more of these moments.

Despite plenty of good material, it’s a tad disappointing that little here sounds as vital as her previous albums. But even though her paranoid rants and, at times, messy and unfinished sound doesn’t equal her greatest work, this music is still much more colourful than most mainstream pop. Here’s to hoping for a little more focus next time round.

Artist: M.I.A.
Album: /\/\ /\ Y /\
Label: XL

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