M.I.A.’s new album is ‘AIM.’ Find out what the critics are saying about the Grammy-nominated British artist’s fifth studio album, her first since 2013’s Matangi. You can see a round up of reviews right here.
The 41-year-old Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam — whose stage name is M.I.A. — has long been a provocateur and an activist in her work. She’s a multi-disciplinary artist — whose work spans many genres from rap and hip hop in music to fashion and film and more. To some, she’s known mainly for the controversy that ensued at her Super Bowl performance alongside Madonna when she flipped the bird at the camera.
But that’s a reductionistic view, of course. She has a long history of aligning herself with many causes, including poverty and in particular the plight of refugees and drawing from her own experience as the daughter of refugees from Sri Lanka. She rose to fame more than a decade ago with her 2005 debut album, Arular. She has had such international hits as ‘Paper Planes’ of the late Aughts even as much of her work has been greeted with more critical acclaim than commercial success.
This time around, with AIM, she has said that it will be her last. In an interview, earlier this year, she said, “It’s my last record so I wanted it to be happy. There’s no complains on it. [It’s] another side to me completely. I don’t know if people know [about] that.”
When artists make such statement, of course, there’s all the more anticipation over the new album as a purported finale of a career. Now as it’s arrived in full, here’s what the critics are saying.
“….Musically, ‘A.I.M’ doesn’t make vast steps on from its predecessor ‘Matangi’, colliding jangling rhythms with brash, lane-switching pop parps. Picking up more or or less where M.I.A left off – though not necessarily building not it – ‘A.I.M.’ is abrasive, and yep, as always, divisive in its messiness. …..” — DIY Magazine
“….Much of the album comes across as lightweight. Too many of the songs sound like sketches, running out of ideas midway through. …” –New York Times
“…. Sure, there is vision, scope and experimentation – there’s even an inexplicable cameo from the world’s most famous former boy band member – but for the most part, AIM is frustratingly unfocused. ….” –The Guardian
“….AIM is more interested in having a good time than making a good argument. […] AIM may not be the Next Great M.I.A. album, but it delivers a solid collection of distinctive, crowd-friendly bangers that sound like no one else. ….” –Entertainment Weekly
“….AIM sounds like a field recording made in the middle of a bustling Sri Lankan market: colorful, flavorful, and most of all, noisy. These inescapable Eastern vibes prove to be a blessing, uniting an otherwise fragmented album…..” –The A.V. Club
“….Maya Arulpragasam’s radical patter is sounding a bit ho-hum (“Borders: what’s up with that?” she wonders on her fifth album). But M.I.A.’s skill as a buoyant beat-rider remains intact (the glassily thumping “Visa” turns border crossing into a party), and there are moments on AIM where the political and personal blur evocatively. ….” –Rolling Stone
“….Some of the backing tracks have novelty appeal–the cartoonish, kazoo-like loop of “Bird Song”, the Qawwali elisions percolating through the Zayn Malik duet “Freedun”–but the most striking work here is her virtually acappella treatment of “Jump In”, with just a sparse beat beneath her rhythmic vocal repetitions. ….” –The Independent
Check back for more reviews as they arrive. And in the meantime, check out M.I.A.’s AIM’ album cover art and music video below!
Pictures: PR Photos