thu 19/09/2019

CD: M I A - Matangi | reviews, news & interviews

CD: M.I.A - Matangi

CD: M.I.A - Matangi

Is the Anglo-Sri Lankan agitator's fourth offering affected or affecting?

MIA: agitator, friend of Julian Assange and feminist icon

M.I.A’s recent single “Bad Girls” - a post-modern mix of Bhangra beats, and frustrated vocals -  undeniably shows her at her most effective. It's an example of her unique take on culture and society that's long garnered critical praise. And yet, there is also a kind of empty stare in her music that others feel demonstrates a deep-down naïveté; or worse. In other words, no one really doubts that, musically, M.I.A can often brew up a pretty toxic potion, but is it real subversion or merely trendy posturing?

Matangi contains both. The strongest tracks are psychotic dance-punk poems to the ills of a globalised digital age. On those songs where things fall flatter the feeling is more of vapid wordplay rapped over tired beats. Both seem consistent with the bundle of contradictions that is Mathangi Maya Arulpragasam – agitator, friend of Julian Assange, feminist icon, and someone often guilty of mistaking slightly banal observations for something more profound. Matangi contains many potent, highly contemporary couplets but there’s also a fair amount of gobbledegook. “Attention”, for instance, simply comprises a list of words ending in the suffix “-tent”. Nor will Arulpragasam win any prizes for originality for telling us “It’s not me and you, it’s the fucking banks” on the irritating "Bring the Noize".

But M.I.A isn't just about what she writes. Who she is is equally important. That slightly bored voice, the violence, the techno-savvy and Asian rhythms place songs like “Warriors” and “Y.A.L.A” right on the nose of the zeitgeist. There’s variety too. The bitter romance “Come Walk with Me” has a chilled-out eastern beach vibe, and “Double Bubble Trouble” (referencing Shampoo’s famous bubblegum hit, “Trouble”) has a heavy dub feel. As for all those fillers, like the dreary "Sexodus", most will, surely, conclude there's enough fire and spice elsewhere to more than compensate.

Overleaf: watch M.I.A's video for 'Bad Girls'

The strongest tracks are psychotic dance-punk poems to the ills of a globalised digital age

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature

★★★★★

A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway

 

Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.

 

★★★★★

This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman

 

Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.

 

Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.