(08.2007, Interscope Records)
Everyone is raving about M.I.A.'s new international blend. On first listen I was hopelessly disappointed. I was expecting, or at least wanting, to hear some of those deep base, tribal beats that I loved from Arular (named after her freedom fighter father). I should have expected that since she ditched Diplo her backing beats would be much different. After a few listens I started to familiarize myself with the new more delicate sound, which includes bollywood rhythms, sirens, gun shots, street singers and guest artists. Slowly I have warmed up to Kala (named after her mother). This time around her lyrics are a lot less sexually charged and a little more politically charged, causing a lot of online discussions and controversy. Recorded at multiple locations including Trinidad, Australia, London, New York, and Baltimore, this album has a more diverse and international sound. From her Pixie's cover to her Timberland collaboration to her children guest singers, this album is all over the place, but still somehow congruent. The album doesn't sound like it came from any one particular continent, its definitely international in every sense. I'm surprised how much I enjoy this album after my initial dislike. Standout tracks are "BirdFlu," "Come Around (with Timberland)," and "Paper Planes."
Architecture In Helsinki
Places Like This
I can honestly say that at one point in time Architecture In Helsinki was my favorite band. Those days are gone. AIH has ditched their charming subtleties for pure obnoxious pop. Seriously, this album is pretty annoying. The music hasn't gone downhill as much as Cameron Bird's voice has. What once was a frail whisper of complexing lyrics has now become and a repetitive anthem shout. He sounds like a squawking chicken, especially on "Hold On." On first listen to that track I thought it sounded a lot like one of the most obnoxious bands of all time, the B52's. Later that day, I was listening to that track at work and my boss asked, "are you listening to the B52's?" so, I must not be too far off on my comparison. Losing two members, AIH created a new eletro-pop calypso sound. The twee is gone, and the catchy is in full force. One reviewer called the tracks "surrealist nursery rhymes," which I thought was fitting. I'm giving the album a lot of crap, but it's almost completely out of disappointment. If Places Like This was my first AIH experience I would have probably given them a higher score, but in comparison it just sounds so juvenile and in-your-face. I'll admit, there are a few charmers on this album. I like "Lazy (Lazy)" and "Underwater," but most the other tracks sound like they were shooting for radio play with this album. I guess that's ok, wait no, no it's not.