By Giles Turnbull
This album has everything, from paranoia to power tools, and that’s just the first 60 seconds. If you loved Arular and Kala, then Maya, M.I.A.’s third studio album, won’t disappoint! It’s full of the same quirky lyrics, infectious tunes and banging beats that’ll keep you dancing along, but the more you listen, the more you’ll find.
There’s a lot of thought behind the words, and right from the get-go you’re introduced to the message, that we need alternative news sources to be able to see through the information politics that M.I.A. asserts stops us seeing the full story behind everything that’s going on in the world; and you know, she may well be right.
Perhaps the most unexpected side to Maya is not the mesmerizing message, but how much M.I.A. actually sings; from heart-felt interludes like “Tell Me Why” and “Space,” and even in the sassy pop catchiness of “XXXO.” As with any surprise, it’s the things you didn’t know you were missing that make you open your eyes. And that’s how these tracks are: fiercely juxtaposed with the hard-edged rap electronica and the incessant industrial backdrop that pervades the rest of the album; like poetry in a war zone.
So you’re going to find a lot of what you expected and a lot of what you didn’t. M.I.A. is as individual as ever in this brilliant and well-produced release, but don’t go thinking it’s an easy listen – it’s clearly not intended to be. It’s thought‑provoking, and through much of it you’ll be distracted by the incursions of the noises of everyday life, interrupting your train of thought. But it’s still unashamedly catchy, witty and energetic, so keep dancing, keep smiling, and forget that your iPhone is connected to the internet, is connected to the Google, is connected to the Government… and that you know the Government are listening.