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My Top 18 Albums Of 2013: # 9 Matangi – M.I.A.

Queen M.I.A. approximately

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I preferred beats to melody, Matangi would be my favorite album of the year. These polyrhythmic beats on beats songs are to EDM what Kanye West is to Hip Hop: they sound nothing else, they sound even wilder than her previous albums. With a stubborn refusal to be what she so obviously is, a pop star, Matangi must have given her record company a heart attack and good reason. Matangi is like Bob Dylan before the Byrds got there hands on him, it is unadorned  by the cosmetic frills a mainstream audience might expect and the better for it.

M.I.A.’s voice sounds like her songs: they are pitched high and strident and they rat-a-tat at you in an overwhelmed disgust with the State of the world in general and the US in particular. Even at her most melodic, the “Exodus”/”Sexodus” The weeknd featured tracks, the melody is all in her voice, everything else is hooking you through the rhythm.

And on the electronic slash and bash tracks, of which so many are so good it’s hard to choose a best though maybe “Warriors” maybe, or maybe “Y.A.L.A.” a song so good it exists on buzz alone, like one constant nagging hooks building to “Lights go off when I open the building”, it stopped her Terminal 5 concert, already great beyond reason, dead in its track. The whistling, howling synth stabs and triple beats under the main beat are enough to make you break for more.

I am a big enough fan of M.I.A. not to consider Matangi a return to form because I consider Maya a great album. Admittedly, she isn’t singing “Paper Planes” any more but even though it is on the impenetrable side for ears unaccustomed to her polymorphic  template of otherness, once you can hear it, the pleasures are as exquisite as West’s Yeezus, the only album this year that comes close to this amount of audaciousness.; to this much emptiness and space and breaking room

Lyrically, this is mainly self-congratulation and agitprop and on a song like ”attention” both at the same day and while you might think she is obvious, she is obviously far from it, a prescient dystopian of intense paranoia and right more often than not. “The fullest exTENT of my inTENT is to let you know what is imporTENT My exisTENTS is miliTENT cause my conTENT bangs like it’s poTENT ResisTENT to the polluTENT, never hesiTENT, always consistent  I back it up, yeah I’m very blaTENT.”

Very blatant indeed.

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