Few albums in 2010 have stirred up more anticipation and discussion than M.I.A.'s "/\/\ /\ Y /\," out today. The buzz is thanks in part to the British-Sri Lankan artist's outspoken personal and political image, recently highlighted in the shocking video for single "Born Free," a lengthy, controversial New York Times Magazine article, and in Billboard Magazine's own cover story. But the music has been equally awaited, following 2007's critically lauded "Kala".
So what's the verdict?
Well, here at Billboard, our reviewer said that "'/\/\ /\ Y /\' blasts M.I.A. into outer space and lets her explore otherworldly electronic arrangements," and while it 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."
Pitchfork gave the album a scathing 4.4 out of 10, saying it "will only accelerate this M.I.A. backlash," and that "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."
Equally harsh is Entertainment Weekly, which gave the album a C- and says "Much of '/\/\ /\ Y /\' sounds murky and almost punishingly discordant, as if the album has been submerged underwater and then set upon by an arsenal of exceptionally peeved power tools."
The L.A. Times was more positive, saying the album "feels like a serious artist's sometimes tentative but very promising step toward a broader vision of herself" and focusing on the music's relationship with the singer as an activist and a woman.
Rolling Stone enjoys M.I.A.'s penchant for trouble, saying "her third album is her most aggressive, confrontational and passionate yet" and that the artist is "capable of anything--except being dull."
And writing for Barnes & Noble, "dean of rock critics" and M.I.A. fan Robert Christgau gives a nuanced analysis of the artist and album's context, noting that "not only does every one of these tracks have its attractions, the deluxe edition's four extras include three excellent new songs."
So what do YOU think? Listen to the album here and share your thoughts in the comments below.