Maya By M.I.A
M.I.A's third major label release, Maya, is a testament to the adage that some artists just cannot be holed into a single genre. Her music does not seem to follow any particular structure or style. Listeners will find themselves absorbing a mixture of electro-pop, hip-hop, dub, and even a little rock 'n' roll on the British-born artist's latest. Within her unique blend of sounds, M.I.A tackles the issues of love, politics, and modern technology in a sixteen song, space-aged merry-go-round.
Imagine taking a guy shouting on a soapbox in a village square, sirens, haywire answering machines, some nursery rhymes, and putting them into a blender. The result would sound reminiscent to the opening tracks of Maya's album, and somehow this quirky concoction is something you will actually want to drink! "The Message" and "Steppin Up" are a bit out there, but they provide the perfect punch to get listeners in tune to what Maya is all about.
The album's more musical qualities begin to shine through on "XXXO," which serves as the album's first single. This song, about relationships with technological entanglements, is worth checking out if you haven't caught it yet. The track stands out due to it's pop quality and the fact that M.I.A's vocals never run the risk of being swallowed in the electronic noises and rhythms that run throughout the album. Along with the dub-twinge on "It Takes a Muscle," and the sing-song ""Tell Me Why," the album's pop flare acts as a breath of fresh air that prevents listeners from drowning in overproduction. This balancing act from M.I.A and producer Blaqstarr keep her voice from becoming subliminal, and they show off her amazing vocal styling.
Aside from the pop element and futuristic audio samples, M.I.A let's her voice shine through on tracks like the bass heavy "Lovalot," "Born Free," and "Meds and Feds." These tracks have more of a hip hop/rock 'n' roll vibe, which comes out of nowhere when listening to the album straight through. These songs act as a solid vessel for the album's political lacings.
M.I.A is most known for her 2007 track "Paper Planes" which was loaded with sound effects and catchy hooks. Fans of this song may take a liking to "Space" which is arguably the song wit the biggest chance of snagging major airplay. There is a break down of metallic 'Oh's' and 'Ah's' that are the sort of thing you won't find in any other artist's work. This tune along with "Internet Connection" offer what a passive fan of M.I.A's work might expect from her previous hits.
In all the goings on there a few tracks that don't quite hit the mark. "It Iz What It Iz" is unfortunately an aptly titled track, nothing really stands out in this tune. However, it may be greedy to expect every song to throw something new out there. A few track like "Teqkilla" push hard beat-wise but don't really go anywhere. It's not that there are bad songs on the album, it's just that some get lost in the ipod shuffle.
Maya is an album that definitely showcases the full repertoire of M.I.A's talent. Anyone looking for some new musical flavor this summer would be hard pressed to find an album more satiating that this. On "Space" M.I.A asks if she "can take a minute or two to introduce my point of view?" If your looking for something fun and/or different, then it's time to listen to what Maya has to say.
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