Review: M.I.A. – Matangi
Published on November 7th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
“My references are beyond the industry,” says M.I.A., perhaps more than a little disingenuously. “I’m talking about the goddess Matangi, who invented music 5,000 years ago.”
So it wasn’t The Beatles after all. Quite what the original Matangi would make of M.I.A. sounding like an attitudinal Crazy Frog on “Only 1 U” may be open to unanswerable question, but the madness remains infectious.
As usual the production is a haphazard onslaught of banging, flickering and grinding, as if all the synths and drum machines had come to life to throw an almighty squat rave once all their human masters were tucked up in their beds.
Though the relentless mania wearies a trifle over the course of the album, there’s too much fun to be had not to treat assertions like “My words are my armour, and you’re about to meet your karma” as fair warning.
Highlights aren’t exactly at a premium either: “Come Walk With Me” ‘pops’ up the joint before flying off in all sorts of madcap directions, “aTENTion” takes similar liberties with vocal inflections as it does with text styling, the Weeknd-featuring “Exodus” injects a welcome touch of relatively straight-laced drama, while “Bad Girls” provides one of the chant-along refrains of the year with “Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well”.
Er, and one of the chant-along refrains of last year, seeing as that’s when it was released as a single. Either way, Tyler, The Creator is hooked…
LIVE FAST DIE YOUNG BAD GIRLS DO IT WLL HANDS UP HANDS HIGH
— Tyler, The Creator (@fucktyler) November 1, 2013
…and that’s good enough for us. Having said that, our personal lyrical highlight has to be “Do you like my perfume? Made it at home out of gasoline and shrooms” from “Bring the Noize”.
There are more pointed offerings (“Brown girl, brown girl, turn your sound down / You know America don’t wanna hear your sound”, presumably in reference to the flak she copped for apparently flipping the bird at last year’s Superbowl) but, hey, we’re frivolous.
“Lights”, suitably, is disarmingly light of touch and nicely addled with it, M.I.A.’s leisure well-earned after subjecting herself to absurd racist and professional abuse in “Boom Skit”. Coldplay it ain’t.
In summation, Matangi is as mad as a box of frogs inside another box of frogs stuck up a tree made of discarded brush parts, and for the most part it’s really quite inspiring.
Matangi is out now on Virgin EMI.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!