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M.I.A – /\/\ /\ Y /\ review

If you look beyond the tornado of opinion and diatribe that has preceded and still surrounds this third album from M.I.A. you’ll find twelves tracks of the most interesting diverse and sonically challenging music from the controversial artist to date. It’s easy to ignore – if you so choose – the cod political references and multitude of pop culture references that pepper the lyrical content as the production work from Blaqstarr, Switch, Diplo and Rusko is just so engaging. It’s the latter that sets the tone with the industrial buzz saw of “Stepping Up” whilst “Teqkilla” is “Galang” updated for 2010 as Maya spits verses over a neck snapping beat pitched deep in hedonistic bass squeals. “Lovalot” sees Frere Jacques reappropriated as bubbling low end dubstep whilst “Born Free”, shorn of it’s controversial video, works better amidst the collage of sounds on the album. The Very Best-esque charm of “Tell Me Why” and the bewitching astral pop step of album closer “Space” both demonstrate M.I.A.’s confidence in her singing and make up for weaker moments such as “XXXO”. M.I.A.’s career has been defined by splitting opinion and /\/\ /\ Y /\ is not about to change that.

Tony Poland