MAYA - M.I.A.
  • Band Name: M.I.A.
  • Record Label: XL
  • Release Date: Jul 13, 2010
Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  1. Just play it a few more times than the fools who clocked dollars for the job and you'll get your money's worth. And I do mean on all 16 new songs‑-three of the four bonus tracks are upper 50th percentile for sure.
  2. Anyone digging into Maya (or MAYA, as it's being promoted) expecting club-banging pop hits will be . . . not disappointed, but definitely confused.
  3. Conspiracy-addled claustrophobic noises swath the hooks throughout, revealing the intoxicating assuredness of a star who sought the spotlight in order to barrage it with glitter and shrapnel.
  4. M.I.A. stands alone in her own world of pop firing out her mercurial messages, which are as complex as they are captivating. MAYA is a towering work that makes a mockery of rivals and genres.
  5. 90
    Aside from "Lovealot," she proudly proclaims her intentions as a first-world pop star, de-emphasizing found collage and "third-world democracy" for melodic sway and punky bluster.
  6. It's less digestible but it's tauter, more metallic and yes, industrial.
  7. The point is that MAYA has to be taken as it comes, culture jam and all, and it's precisely at this point that it works out to be one of the most refreshing albums to hit the shelves in a long, long time.
  8. In its 12 tracks, M.I.A. explores both what it means to serve as a sexual/romantic ideal in the Beyonce way, and what happens when a self-consciously political artist like herself confronts the sentimental streak deep within.
  9. Despite some of its missteps, MAYA has treasures to explore.
  10. As long as her music remains as bold, inventive and occasionally thrilling as it is here, long may that continue.
  11. Striding through metal, dancehall, space pop and dubstep, our multicultural mascot has littered MAYA with politicized sonic motifs: from marching drums, gunshots and modems to heavy machinery and blaring sirens. It's loud, proud, and taking no prisoners.
  12. From the sound of Maya, she's capable of anything - except being dull.
  13. She remains vitally important to The Discourse for that reason alone. Maya both reminds you of that fact-of that sickly sweet spot only she can hit-and warns you how long and punishing a road it can be to get there. For her, and for you.
  14. While some songs appear to have a cleaner polish (the pleasantly danceable "XXXO" and the epic "Tell Me Why") than others (the freewheeling "Born Free" and the ultra-compressed "Space"), every song is structured like a concise pop song with just a few rough edges.
  15. Like the rebels she so often lionizes, Arulpragasam is conducting hit-and-run warfare on modern pop, snatching a hook here, a melody there, and then falling back to reshape these pilfered rhythms into unfettered anti-establishment anthems.
  16. It's every bit as enjoyable as the last two. Which isn't to say it's a masterpiece, just that the abrupt backlash is proportionate to the fawning affection she received on Kala and Arular.
  17. It's not the world-claiming masterpiece it could have been. But as an evolutionary step from world-party-queen towards a more complex beast, it's intriguing.
  18. She might be mouthy, trendy, shallow and opinionated without having all of the facts, but MIA creates terrific pop moments.
  19. M.I.A. has now made a trilogy of inventive, engrossing records, but for the sake of music we'd all better hope that MAYA isn't the beginning of the end.
  20. This is exactly the subjective realm that MAYA taps into: it puts its listeners in a position where opinions are formed in large part by predetermined prejudices. Of course, this is true for most music in general, but what makes MAYA tacitly brilliant is that it forces us to engage with those prejudices in a way that pop music typically does not.
  21. Mathangi Arulpragasam delivers intriguingly fluxed up genre bending third album.
  22. On Maya, M.I.A. also descends to more standard hip-hop concerns: stardom, romance, dropping brand names and getting drunk.
  23. Signing on as the global icon for the politics of oppression can't be much fun, pastel fashion sense notwithstanding. It's no surprise then that her music isn't much fun anymore.
  24. Favoring melody over raucous beats is a risky strategy, but she just about pulls it off.
  25. Arulpragasam is trying to negotiate a middle ground between her status as an underground rebel and rising pop celebrity.
  26. Although MAYA is an undeniable testament to M.I.A.'s inventiveness, the album is so jam-packed with beats that any statement that she is making gets lost in translation.
  27. There are moments during MAYA when it seems like M.I.A.'s next move might involve walking into a laundromat, filling the dryers with bricks and silverware, pulling the fire alarm, blaring a drop-forge beat from a tinny boombox, and recording the result.
  28. While Maya certainly shows no diminution of sheer sonic ingenuity, it suffers from a shrinking of the spirit. [Aug 2010, p.112]
  29. The problem with Maya is that the clamour around what she says seems to have begun influencing some of the music that she chooses to make.
  30. It may be an above-average album, but its aesthetic matches her persona only at its shallowest levels, in the thinness of its ideas and the often-forceful ugliness of its message.
  31. The new industrial influences and heavily distorted textures work amazingly well at times, but after a few songs you find yourself longing for something resembling a melody.
  32. It all slides down very easily--but there's isn't much of an aftertaste. [Aug 2010, p.66]
  33. 50
    M.I.A.'s schizophrenic style does not please this time around. The industrial and mechanical soundscape lacks both genuine protest songs or club jams.
  34. MAYA's many false starts and dead ends also place M.I.A. on shaky ground aesthetically, and with no coherent message to fall back on, the album feels alienated and disconnected, perhaps ironic for an album attempting to evoke the hyper-connectedness and sensory overload of culture in the wake of iPhone and Google.
  35. On the handful of songs on MAYA that find her exploring new musical territory, Maya doesn't fare much better. It often feels like she's casting about, trying to figure out where she fits into the pop landscape.
  36. The record is a shambling mess, devoid of the bangers that characterized Arular and Kala, two of the stronger pop albums of the past decade.
  37. The dizzy dynamism of her earlier work - a global stew of bhangra, baile funk, and hip-hop, politicized and hitched to block-party beats - is largely reduced to inert feedback and industrial noise.
  38. 40
    Where MIA escapes the club and returns to the wider world, there's an overwhelming sense of diminishing returns. [Aug 2010, p.89]
  39. She's certainly eyeing global pop domination. Therein lies Maya's conflict.
  40. Mostly, though, the album is noisy jumble of competing sounds and ideas, none of which ever develops fully enough to make MAYA into as cohesive a statement as her first two albums.
  41. MAYA, M.I.A.'s third and so obviously worst album, is the sound of a devoted audience getting f***ed over by a musical sociopath.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 67 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 14
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 14
  3. Negative: 1 out of 14
  1. Aug 17, 2010
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Every time M.I.A returns, we all get excited about the new album. This time we can cry of joy because she brought us the best of alternative Hip-Hop and Electro music, and also the best of her. After almost a year of production, the result is very clear: all of us can see that this is the best Electro record of the year, if not the decadeâ Full Review »
  2. Nov 24, 2010
    9
    Top five album of the year. I really love this album. The songs are really great. M.i.a is an amazing artist I think more people should listen to her. A great Alt/dance alt/hip hop album. A Must buy album 10/10 Full Review »
  3. Aug 12, 2010
    8
    "// / Y /", in its proper spelling, reveals the in-betweens of M.I.A.'s thoughts and perceptions when she's not saving the world one "banga" at a time. Full Review »