MAYA (N.E.E.T./XL/Interscope)

Aug. 16, 2010
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Rest assured: No song on this album will ever make its way into the public consciousness. Its first single, “Born Free,” pretends to be a sample of or homage to Suicide’s “Ghost Rider,” but it is almost indistinguishable from the original, except M.I.A.’s pseudo-political karaoke dropped on top. I wanted to describe its video aesthetic as “Michael Bay meets George Romero,” but that actually sounds compelling. There’s something to the droning grind of the last two minutes of “Teqkilla,” but, on principle, you kind of have to hate a song with a name like that.

The consistently irritating factor with MAYA—the one driving what must be the meanest review I’ve ever written—is that all the gaudiness, tackiness and over-the-topness of M.I.A.’s style used to feel like an artistic choice to counter the gruesomeness of the subject matter she tackled. Here, the gaudiness just feels like bad taste, the gruesomeness for shock’s sake. Fortunately, it feels like M.I.A. is still trying when making the choices that form MAYA. Hopefully, next time around, these choices will inform better decisions.


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