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MIA - Kala

  by Sarah Maybank

published: 4 / 9 / 2007

MIA - Kala
Label: XL Recordings
Format: CD


Stunning and brave continent-hopping second album from MIA, the project of Sri Lankan born Londoner Maya Arulpragasam

As any large-brained history bod will tell you, most the world spends most its time snap, crackling and popping with explosive conflicts. Bad news for the hapless, exploited pawns getting their lives chewed up in the crossfire. Good news for British music - because it means MIA’s seething aural snapshot of right here, right now makes far more sense than the earnest musings of peaceable types like David Gray. Like Womad on a pogo stick, Sri Lankan born Londoner Maya Arulpragasam boing-boing-boings from continent to continent, suitcasing the soundtracks from favela to temple and beyond, shaking them about a bit, then nail-gunning the whole pullulating melange in your head with throbbing drums that pound like an ecstatic migraine. As comfortable mixing it up with tribal Indian percussionists as she is hanging out with Aboriginal child rappers, she switches personas throughout second album 'Kala' like a human remote control. So, in less than an hour, you’ll have been seduced by a Bollywood kitten ('Jimmy'), reminisced with a Home Counties raver ('XR2'), and, with the Pixies-referencing howl of '20 Dollar' (the cost of arming a child soldier with an AK47), coldly reminded what a mollycoddled westerner you are. Ignore the liberal types hey-wowing at Kala’s boldly colourful culture clash, though. Stroll up any urban high street of an evening and the global mix tape spilling from shop doorways and car windows will confirm MIA’s influences are a lot more hometown than you realised. Here is her biggest achievement. After 50-odd years of popular music as we know it, how many female pop artists can you think of that don’t package ‘empowerment’ as wearing a crop-top and bleating apologetically, ‘I’m not afraid of my sexuality,’ then slagging off a fellow artist’s weight/shoes/boyfriend as evidence of assertiveness? In coming up with something bold and brave that’ll simultaneously make you dance like a loon and write a global politics thesis to, MIA just raised the bar for any artist with lady chromosones and an ambition to get to number one. Girl power just got powerful. About time too.

Track Listing:-
1 Bamboo Banga
2 Bird Flu
3 Boyz
4 Jimmy
5 Hussel
6 Mango Pickle Down River
7 20 Dollar
8 World Town
9 The Turn
10 XR2
11 Paper Planes
12 Come Around

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