Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Album of the Week: M.I.A. - /\/\ /\ Y /\
M.I.A.'s much ballyhooed MAYA hits stores today, and the early press isn't exactly kind. Pitchfork gave it a whopping 4.4, saying:
"It's hard to tell whether /\/\/\Y/\ is half-assed or half-baked. There are certainly a number of good ideas in the mix here, but the execution is lacking. Tracks like "Story to Be Told", "Lovealot", and "Teqkilla" come across like mildly promising demos ready to be edited into sleeker, stronger compositions. Lead single "XXXO" sounds unfinished, as if everyone involved figured they may as well wait around for someone else to make a better remix. Most of the songs are built out of digital clangs and electronic noise, but unlike Kala's "Bird Flu", in which chaotic clatter was the basis for a brilliant track evoking panic and confusion, this cacophony doesn't signify much of anything, aside from perhaps a desire to seem confrontational and daring. There are moments of interesting noise, but in the absence of appealing grooves or memorable hooks, it barely matters."
PopMatters called it "lacking focus and confidence," and according to The Guardian , MAYA is "a headache-inducing patchwork of conspiracy theories, love, technological overload, world musics and sadness framed by the sort of poltergeist-in-the-machine noises you might expect from a new synthesiser called the Korg Kaosillator." Of the reviews I culled through this week, only the NY Times and Rolling Stone had anything positive to say, the former crediting MAYA's producers with the album's end result:
"The album’s producers, who include Blaqstarr, Diplo, Rusko and Switch, mingle propulsion and attack in tracks that can be fanatically layered or sparse but effective. M.I.A.’s drunk-on-the-dance-floor song, “Teqkilla,” is tambourine-shaking, synthesizer-blipping, sample-chirping mayhem. “Born Free,” despite its gratuitously violent video, recaptures the confrontational energy of the group it samples, Suicide. The rhythm track to “Steppin Up” starts with power drills and then thuds, whirs, power-chords and generally slams onward. And the sometimes inane lyrics of “Tell Me Why” arrive in waves of an Auto-Tuned chorale."