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M.I.A.|Matangi

Matangi

M.I.A.

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Four albums into M.I.A.'s career, it's arguable that success may have been the worst thing to happen to her music. After "Paper Planes"' breakthrough, Maya Arulpragasam seemed determined to appear ever more rebellious in the face of increasing mainstream acceptance; her one-finger salute during the Super Bowl half-time show while performing with Madonna and Nicki Minaj was a perfect example. That attitude trickled down to her music: /\/\/\Y/\'s abrasive electronics, which reflected her mistrust of the information age, were equal parts tedious and thrilling. Matangi -- named after an emerald-green Tantric goddess as well as a riff on M.I.A.'s birth name, Mathangi -- has weaknesses similar to /\/\/\Y/\'s: many songs are so claustrophobic that they feel twice as long as they actually are, and her wordplay hovers somewhere between the club and the nursery. Her litany of countries on the title track feels alternately meaningful and parodic, while "aTENTion"'s reliance on words with "tent" in them works better as a rhythmic device highlighting the song's blippy electro-pop than a key to any deeper significance. Top-loading the album with some of its most aggressive tracks, M.I.A. makes listeners wait for her still formidable skills with hooks and melodies. She displays them most stunningly on "Bad Girls," a sinewy, menacing track whose origins date back to 2007 sessions with Danja. Throughout Matangi, Arulpragasam proves she's as adept as ever at blending different sounds and cultures into a mix that is unmistakably hers, alluding to Shampoo's bratty Brit-pop single "Trouble" at one moment and proclaiming herself the female Slick Rick at another. Indeed, the moments inspired by rap and R&B are among the highlights, such as her karmic questioning of Drake's ubiquitous motto on "YALA" or the sultry, surprisingly straightforward ballad "Know It Ain't Right." "Exodus," a collaboration with the Weeknd, finds a mostly successful middle ground between her outbursts and his chilly R&B dirges (although the closing reprise "Sexodus" probably wasn't necessary). While she remains an ambitious synthesist, it often feels like M.I.A. is having less fun as time goes on, and moments like the fizzy, hypnotic "Lights" or "Boom Skit," which harks back to Arular's brazen exuberance, are welcome respites from her mission to be the edgiest. In its mix of confrontational moments and moves toward the rap/R&B center, Matangi is a frustrating portrait of an artist challenging herself on some levels and retreating on others.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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Matangi

M.I.A.

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1
Karmageddon
00:01:33

Dave Taylor, ComposerLyricist - M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist - Martin "Doc" McKinney, Producer, ComposerLyricist - Sugu Arulpragasam, Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

2
MATANGI
00:05:12

Dave Taylor, ComposerLyricist - Switch, Producer - M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

3
Only 1 U
00:03:12

Dave Taylor, ComposerLyricist - Switch, Producer - M.I.A., MainArtist - Surkin, Producer, Additional Producer - Maya Arulpragasam, Producer, ComposerLyricist - Kyle Edwards, ComposerLyricist - So Japan, Producer, Additional Producer

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

4
Warriors
00:03:40

M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist - Hit-Boy, Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

5
Come Walk With Me (Explicit)
00:04:43

Dave Taylor, ComposerLyricist - Switch, Producer - M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

6
aTENTion
00:03:40

Dave Taylor, ComposerLyricist - Switch, Producer - M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

7
Exodus
00:05:08

M. MCKINNEY, ComposerLyricist - Switch, Producer - M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist - The Weeknd, FeaturedArtist - C. Montagnese, ComposerLyricist - Abel Tesfaye, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

8
Bad Girls
00:03:47

M. Araica, ComposerLyricist - Danja, Producer - Floyd Nathaniel Hills, ComposerLyricist - M.I.A., MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2012 Maya Arulpragasam

9
Boom Skit
00:01:15

M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist - Hit-Boy, Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

10
Double Bubble Trouble
00:02:59

M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist - Martin "Doc" McKinney, ComposerLyricist - Partysquad, Producer

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

11
Y.A.L.A.
00:04:23

M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist - Partysquad, Producer

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

12
Bring The Noize (Extended Version)
00:04:35

David Taylor, ComposerLyricist - Switch, Producer - M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist - Benoit Heitz, Producer, ComposerLyricist - Hugues Rey, ComposerLyricist - Jean-Baptiste De Laubier, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

13
Lights
00:04:35

M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist - Sugu Arulpragasam, Producer, ComposerLyricist - Rosalee Pfeffer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

14
Know It Ain't Right
00:03:42

M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist - Martin "Doc" McKinney, Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

15
Sexodus
00:04:50

M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist - Martin "Doc" McKinney, ComposerLyricist - The Weeknd, FeaturedArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

16
Like This (Bonus Track)
00:02:51

Chauncey Hollis, ComposerLyricist - M.I.A., MainArtist - Maya Arulpragasam, ComposerLyricist - Haze Banga, Producer, Co-Producer - Hit-Boy, Producer - R. Muhammed, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 Maya Arulpragasam

Album Description

Four albums into M.I.A.'s career, it's arguable that success may have been the worst thing to happen to her music. After "Paper Planes"' breakthrough, Maya Arulpragasam seemed determined to appear ever more rebellious in the face of increasing mainstream acceptance; her one-finger salute during the Super Bowl half-time show while performing with Madonna and Nicki Minaj was a perfect example. That attitude trickled down to her music: /\/\/\Y/\'s abrasive electronics, which reflected her mistrust of the information age, were equal parts tedious and thrilling. Matangi -- named after an emerald-green Tantric goddess as well as a riff on M.I.A.'s birth name, Mathangi -- has weaknesses similar to /\/\/\Y/\'s: many songs are so claustrophobic that they feel twice as long as they actually are, and her wordplay hovers somewhere between the club and the nursery. Her litany of countries on the title track feels alternately meaningful and parodic, while "aTENTion"'s reliance on words with "tent" in them works better as a rhythmic device highlighting the song's blippy electro-pop than a key to any deeper significance. Top-loading the album with some of its most aggressive tracks, M.I.A. makes listeners wait for her still formidable skills with hooks and melodies. She displays them most stunningly on "Bad Girls," a sinewy, menacing track whose origins date back to 2007 sessions with Danja. Throughout Matangi, Arulpragasam proves she's as adept as ever at blending different sounds and cultures into a mix that is unmistakably hers, alluding to Shampoo's bratty Brit-pop single "Trouble" at one moment and proclaiming herself the female Slick Rick at another. Indeed, the moments inspired by rap and R&B are among the highlights, such as her karmic questioning of Drake's ubiquitous motto on "YALA" or the sultry, surprisingly straightforward ballad "Know It Ain't Right." "Exodus," a collaboration with the Weeknd, finds a mostly successful middle ground between her outbursts and his chilly R&B dirges (although the closing reprise "Sexodus" probably wasn't necessary). While she remains an ambitious synthesist, it often feels like M.I.A. is having less fun as time goes on, and moments like the fizzy, hypnotic "Lights" or "Boom Skit," which harks back to Arular's brazen exuberance, are welcome respites from her mission to be the edgiest. In its mix of confrontational moments and moves toward the rap/R&B center, Matangi is a frustrating portrait of an artist challenging herself on some levels and retreating on others.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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