Arular - M.I.A.

Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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]
  5. 90
    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]
  6. 80
    Arular's irresistible blend of crafty refugee chic and subversive digital skipping rhymes will do very nicely for the moment. [Jun 2005, p.108]
  7. Weird, playful, unclassifiable, sexy, brilliantly addictive.
  8. 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]
  9. As an MC, M.I.A. sounds brash and sassy, a party-starter first and a polemicist second.
  10. 100
    Will likely be the best political album this year. [Mar 2005, p.88]
  11. As instantly infectious as it is hard to pin down. [15 Apr 2005, p.85]
  12. Shrapnel-sharp dance music that demands to be heard.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. What's more remarkable than her fascinating biography is her bold music. Like her life story, there's hardly anything like it.
  16. 80
    It doesn't feel like soapboxing; it feels like life. [Mar 2005, p.142]
  17. Arular beats out most everything I’ve heard this year in terms of creativity, energy, dance-ability and fun.
  18. All the elements are deftly held together by the MC/songstress' ability to make each track her own.
  19. 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.
  20. “Arular”, as well as being a particularly great and brave album, could well be this year’s Portishead or Massive Attack.
  21. Fortifying her monstrous singles "Galang" and "Sunshowers" with further molten munitions, Arular is primed for worldwide insurrection.
  22. 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.
  23. 80
    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]
  24. A thrilling affair. [#252, p.63]
  25. When 'Arular' works - a good three-quarters of the time - it's unmissable.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 80
    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]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 248 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 24 out of 142
  1. Dec 6, 2013
    Perfect! All of the songs are mind-blowing with a lot of hidden political messages. I love all the tracks, but its highlights are Amazon, U.R.A.Q.T., Bucky Done Gun (an amazing track which samples funk carioca!) & Bingo. Too bad that Arular failed to achieve commercial success, I wish it was released on the 90s so it would have sold a lot. Full Review »
  2. Sep 29, 2013
    P-E-R-F-E-C-T. Only M.I.A. could sing about children prostitution over dance-pop beats. Every song on the album is a highlight:

    Pull Up The
    People 5/5
    Bucky Done Gun 5/5
    Fire Fire 5/5
    Amazon 5/5
    Bingo 5/5
    Hombre 5/5
    10 Dollar 5/5
    Sunshowers 5/5
    Galang 5/5
    Hidden track 5/5
    Full Review »
  3. Aug 14, 2013
    I love me some M.I.A. She is creative, and controversial, and a really good singer/rapper. Even though it isn't my favorite M.I.A. album, it is still up there. Full Review »