Big beats, big personality, and big statements define M.I.A. She’s never been one for subtleties, an on her third album she’s brasher than ever. Sound effects are loaded on top of almost all of Maya’s 16 tracks — from electric screwdrivers and typing keyboard to crying babies and barking dogs. But at times, the noise clutters what M.I.A does best: spitting clever rhymes over danceable beats. “Teqkilla” starts with the same polyrhythmic thumping that drove 2007’s Kala, but it gives way to a series of ringing beeps in grating frequencies that sound like a malfunctioning MRI machine. It’s the more laidback grooves of the reggae-dub “It Takes a Muscle” and the schoolgirl chant “Internet Connection” that make Maya as intriguing as it is diverse. But the British native is still confrontational, getting serious about her political hostilities in “Lovealot” (then she goofs off in “XXXO,” where she cheekily croons “You’re tweeting me like Tweety Bird on your iPhone”). Growling metal guitars coat parts of the album, while futuristic electronics fuel the rest. The only thing Maya is short on is M.I.A’s big, hooky rhythmic interplay. Her ideas, though, are big as ever. —Danielle Sills
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at email@example.com.
Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.