Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Spin
    Will likely be the best political album this year. [Mar 2005, p.88]
  2. It’s a swaggering, spitting, utterly contemporary album of politically dissident, sexually forthright Anglo-Sri Lankan dubstep bhangra hip-pop IDM in which M.I.A. stars as protagonist, antagonist, chanteuse, MC, exotic schoolgirl tease, graphic artist, chastiser of the immoral, and fun-loving London-living party girl. And all in under 40 minutes, too. It’s special. We’ve not heard it’s like before.
  3. This is probably as close as anyone has yet come to achieving the visions of revolutionary global pop once advanced by the Clash and Afrika Bambaataa; it's equally enlightening to urban street kids and university eggheads.
  4. Entertainment Weekly
    As instantly infectious as it is hard to pin down. [15 Apr 2005, p.85]
  5. It's an accessible album, but one containing challenging contrasts. In the end, what's most impressive is how Arulpragasam powerfully weaves a consistent theme of rootlessness throughout the record, drawing on her experiences in both the third world and modern London, from civil war to Western urban culture, and her own, highly unique, bastardized form of pop music is the extraordinary end result.
  6. Weird, playful, unclassifiable, sexy, brilliantly addictive.
  7. The only problem with this album is the difficulty you're going to have explaining what the hell it sounds like to your friends after they hear you raving about it.
  8. Uncut
    M.I.A.'s vivid debut already sounds like a booty-shaking milestone to rank alongside The Streets and Dizzee Rascal. [May 2005, p.98]
  9. “Arular”, as well as being a particularly great and brave album, could well be this year’s Portishead or Massive Attack.
  10. It's the best kind of pop album imaginable. It can be enjoyed on a purely physical level, and it also carries the potential to adjust your worldview.
  11. Fortifying her monstrous singles "Galang" and "Sunshowers" with further molten munitions, Arular is primed for worldwide insurrection.
  12. With all the column inches and message board posts arguing about whether M.I.A. is an opportunist or a clever contextualist, genuine or a fraud, full of good intentions or no specific intentions at all, the closest thing to a truism about Arular is that it's a taut, invigorating distillation of the world's most thrilling music; a celebration of contradictions and aural globalization that recasts the tag "world music" as the ultimate in communicative pop rather than a symbol of condescending piety.
  13. Arular beats out most everything I’ve heard this year in terms of creativity, energy, dance-ability and fun.
  14. Urb
    M.I.A.'s singsong cadence is both child-like and streetwise, perfectly mirroring the smiley-faced menace of the electro-informed palpitations behind her. [Mar 2005, p.113]
  15. Not for a moment does the violence seem vindictive, sadistic, or pleasurable. It's a fact of life to be triumphed over, with beats and tunelets stolen or remembered or willed into existence.
  16. The Wire
    A thrilling affair. [#252, p.63]
  17. Blender
    It doesn't feel like soapboxing; it feels like life. [Mar 2005, p.142]
  18. What's more remarkable than her fascinating biography is her bold music. Like her life story, there's hardly anything like it.
  19. Arular is what The Coup’s second record set out to be but wasn’t: Party Music, both for the warehouse hedonists and the basement dissidents.
  20. As an MC, M.I.A. sounds brash and sassy, a party-starter first and a polemicist second.
  21. At first listen, it's thrilling, but not quite the statement we were made to believe would shift the world's axis by its very existence. The best thing to do is clear your mind of hype and expectations, and listen to this record -- this fun, addictive, thoroughly entertaining record -- again and again.
  22. All the elements are deftly held together by the MC/songstress' ability to make each track her own.
  23. When 'Arular' works - a good three-quarters of the time - it's unmissable.
  24. Shrapnel-sharp dance music that demands to be heard.
  25. What makes M.I.A. so good is her simplicity. Not quite electro-clash, not quite hip-hop, not quite grime, she's a world onto herself with little more than a groovebox and her voice to sustain her.
  26. Planet
    Sounding as unfinished as if it never made it out of her bedroom before it was pressed up, this very rawness is part of why Arular makes as bold a statement as it does. [#9, p.71]
  27. Mojo
    Arular's irresistible blend of crafty refugee chic and subversive digital skipping rhymes will do very nicely for the moment. [Jun 2005, p.108]
  28. Arular is an impressive first outing, even if it does suffer from repetitive drill syndrome... and too often favors a smart hook over offering anything politically relevant to say.
  29. Like the Streets or Dizzee Rascal, Arulpragasam's beats are minimal, but tracks such as "Pull Up the People" make use of every ounce of groove as tight, crisp synth lines backing her catchy raga delivery.
  30. New Musical Express (NME)
    There is a fatal flaw with 'Arular' which means it never makes the step up from 'solid debut' to all-time classic. MIA clears her throat, grabs your attention: and then has nothing to say. [16 Apr 2005, p.49]
  31. It's not the mindblowing masterpiece the critics are so dizzily carping about, but as a milepost of the current state of world electronica it remains strong throughout.
  32. Q Magazine
    M.I.A.'s style mag-cool pop-rap doesn't have the substance to carry the dark subtext of the title. [May 2005, p.107]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 298 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 24 out of 144
  1. JM
    Jul 7, 2005
    One of the essential albums of the year...
  2. Anonymous
    Sep 4, 2007
    Can anyone even understand what she is saying? I am shocked to see that so many people like this kind of music. And I use the term music Can anyone even understand what she is saying? I am shocked to see that so many people like this kind of music. And I use the term music lightly, because to me this is just random noises thrown together. If anyone listens to Dane Cook, then they will understand when I say that this is the kind of noise that makes you want to punch a baby. Full Review »
  3. ivanv
    Jan 4, 2007
    awful, how is this getting good reviews. this sounds even worse than kevin federline. i know there a message and all but its awful. not music