Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm late to the party, but I gotta talk about M.I.A.

At the close of 2007, it seemed that every music critic's top ten list had M.I.A. (the lovely Maya Arulpragasam) at either the top spot or close to it. I was confounded. I hadn't heard of M.I.A. before November or so and what I finally heard ("Boyz") was good but nothing particularly special to my ears.

Then I borrowed the disc from the library and played it once. It was cool enough. I liked it enough. But I still couldn't understand its effect on all of those music critics. I listened to it again. And again. By the weekend, M.I.A. was all I was listening to.

M.I.A. is nothing if not infectious to me. I'm reminded a bit of The Go! Team from time to time, but there's just something more raw and nasty here. Words like "guttural" and "primitive" come to mind. This girl Maya from Sri Lanka has a tight grip on whatever the hell it is she's trying to do. The drums and her cadence are at the same time both basic and inventive as hell.

Sasha Frere-Jones describes the music in the New Yorker: "The over-all effect is like what a politically minded class of fourth graders might do for a term project if they had access to a lot of electronic toys: joyous, spring-heeled, impatient, unafraid to speak out."

And now it excites me to no end that M.I.A. is coming to Nashville to play at City Hall on May 5. Tickets are pricey (for me) at twenty-seven bucks, so I may pass and just keep spinning the disc from home. If you go, tell me all about it.

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