M.I.A’s critically acclaimed first album Arular was an eclectic mix of euro-dance beats, lo-fi keyboard effects and strong political messages. Her follow-up, Kala, is a wild aural adventure that pushes its predecessor’s formula to a whole new level.
Production-wise, Kala is less raw sounding than Arular, but despite the professional gloss, M.I.A manages to create an intense, dance-influenced sound. Recorded all over the world in Trinidad, India, Australia, and London, M.I.A’s multi-cultural collage is made up of African percussive beats (“Bird Flu”), robotic middle eastern effects (“The Turn”) and even a sampled didgeridoo (“Mango Pickle Down River”). Top tracks include the hypnotic opener “ Bamboo Banga,” which features a catchy, pumping bass line with aboriginal chants sneaking in on the chorus; “Paper Planes” is a sauntering reggae track mixed with a children’s choir and gunshots; and “Jimmy, ” is the closest thing to a pop-single on the album.
With all the original sounds on Kala, it’s sad that it ends on a sour note with the bland Timbaland-produced “Come Around.” Timbaland is a horrible rapper and churns out boring, egocentric lyrics – who does he think M.I.A is? Nelly Furtado? Oh well, at least the rest of the record is mind-blowing – pick this one up. (XL/Beggars Group)
Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars