FFWD REW

M.I.A. – Matangi

Interscope

M.I.A. can be awesome. She has demonstrated this plenty in the past namely that first mixtape with Diplo and her second album Kala . But all too often M.I.A. makes us forget that she can be awesome by airing her personal problems and politics often in all-caps on Twitter.

Her fourth album Matangi was delayed a year by her label because it was too “posi.” I guess they wanted the controversial badass to show more spunk but remember her last album // / Y / ? Thankfully with Matangi the progressive instinctual genre-bending that made her stand out is back.

There are moments where she vents like on the NFL-targeted “Boom Skit” and she plays a politically charged rhyming game with Julian Assange’s help on “aTENTtion” but for the most part this is M.I.A. making more of an attempt to write cerebral pop songs — her way.

She thrives on “Only 1 U” (the kind of glorious sound-clashing anthem we’ve come to hope for from her) the whimsical deconstructed girl group melodies of “Come Walk With Me” and the minimal bass-rumbling “Lights.”

Matangi isn’t quite M.I.A. at her best but it’s not far off. And with all the distractions she’s faced over the past few years I’m pleased she could turn in something this awesome.

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