M.I.A - Matangi

By Jake Ebdale

Released November 4th, 2013 - UMusic

I don't know what to say about this one - I've been a casual M.I.A. fan since 2005's Arular and really got on board, like most other people, when Kala dropped. I never knew what she was though - not so much a rapper, or a pop singer, more a shout out girl that skewed, well, whatever she thought of that moment. Since Kala, it's abundantly clear that M.I.A. is running out of ideas. Whatever cross-over momentum she gained from her single ‘Paper Planes' has diminished, the disappointing follow up Maya didn't fly, and as far as I'm concerned, Matangi is in the same vein of ‘meh'.

Of course, M.I.A. was never about materialism, success or censorship, so referencing ‘Planes' is irrelevant. But throughout her short career, her political and spiritual agenda has been confusing - the political sometimes on point, but other times overtly garish and unnecessarily provocative, whilst the spiritual just dragged the music down. This preachy devotional spew is all over Matangi, obviously from the name (referencing a Hindu goddess - OK, we get it), onwards. The album cover also hurts my retinas.

Universal cleverly chose the right/wrong single to represent Matangi via ‘Bad Girls'. The best song here, in the context of the album it's exceptional. Outside of M.I.A. world and among the general populous, it's a bit of wallpaper that's been rolled over repeatedly. The track's been out since 2012 and way past its use by date.

As for recent single ‘Come Walk with Me' - I want to like it, I'm listening to it over and over again, but the hook sounds like rewinding a cassette tape spool, or a school bully going "nya nya nya". In short, it's bloody annoying. ‘Exodus/Sexodus', the latter which was written for Madonna and rejected for good reason, was built from the titular pun upwards; in fact, it sounds like ‘Karmageddon' and ‘Y.A.L.A.' were too. There's no substance, there's a smattering of irony somewhere, Maya's raps aren't seductive or appealing. ‘Bring the Noize' uses a fucking creaky chair leg as percussion and quickly crashes into parody.

OK, so ‘Lights' is only acceptable for her lyric "I'm running youth centres", and ‘Know It Ain't Right' is good but Ms-annoying-voice seeps through in the chorus yet again. I'm starting to question why I ever enjoyed her music. Maybe I've changed since 2007. Yeah, I have.

For all of Matangi's failures, it does bear sonic similarities to a triumphant 2013 record, Yeezus. I say this as both are unrelenting assaults on the ear, and both artists are unrelenting assholes. The difference is, Kanye comes off like an ass but backed his Kardashian shit up with good songs. M.I.A. pulls the fingers at the Superbowl and rolls with Julian Assange, pulls the bad bitch card. But as Yeezus succeeded in its brazenness, most of Matangi's songs are the equivalent of stuffing your wang in a garlic crusher. It doesn't fit, it shouldn't be happening - so how the hell did we get here?

This album is a case of walk: yes. Talk: yeah, nah. M.I.A. has not backed up her bravado - she should pray to whatever god is available. Yeezus is most likely busy.

2.5 / 5