CD Review: M.I.A

Maya (N.E.E.T./Interscope)

Big beats, big personality, and big statements define M.I.A. She's never been one for subtleties, and 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 laid-back 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

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