Album Review

[Beggars Banquet/Interscope]
Grade: B+

This woman is crazy. Ignoring constant criticism of her personal views let alone music, she sends a serious message straight from the cover of her newest full-length album: “Fight on! Fight on! Fight on!” You fight, girl, but please try not to climb 30 feet up Lollapalooza rigging without seriously thinking about the painful consequences.

Flying on a gust of popularity from her last LP Arular, M.I.A. vows a “come back with powah, powah” on the first track of Kala. “Bamboo Banga” gives away that this album will stay very digital in the hands of producer Switch. Confirmation comes with the entire first full spin, but so does a sense of the genius inherent in M.I.A.’s partnership with the producer. Lyrics are written for beats rather than a pretentious stab at everything bothering this snappy Brit. Even the African AK-47 market-inspired “20 Dollar” doesn’t really say much in substance, not that anyone should care; that constrained synth beat is hot. Sure to be popular track “Jimmy” gives some insight into M.I.A.’s sweeter side, bringing out smooth vocals in a Bali pop beat. Bullet effects and some cash ringin’ coupled with serious borrowing from The Clash’s “Straight to Hell” makes “Paper Planes” the most fun to be had on the album.

Rest assured, any future work from everyone’s true favorite British MC will come packing a punch. Whether it’s a sassy rebuke for doubting her or another digitized burst of energy is up to the listener.

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