M.I.A., "/\/\ /\ Y /\"

62 Billboard Rating

Anticipation is feverishly high for M.I.A.'s third album, and why shouldn't it be? Aside from finally breaching the U.S. pop charts with "Paper Planes," Maya Arulpragasm has founded her career on a seamless pattern of musical innovation. If 2007's "Kala" rearranged the jungle beats of 2005 debut "Arular" into a sweaty stomp, "/\/\ /\ Y /\" blasts M.I.A. into outer space and lets her explore otherworldly electronic arrangements. "Teqkilla" is a 7-minute raver full of violent blips and vocal snippets, while "Born Free" commits to straight-faced rock and a screw-you attitude. There are flashes of brilliance throughout, notably the bouncy single "XXXO" and the Diplo-assisted pop track "Tell Me Why," but most of the album's production is so abrasively busy that it pummels M.I.A.'s vocals into the background. "All I ever wanted was my story to be told," M.I.A.'s echoing voice confesses on "Story To Be Told." Although "/\/\ /\ Y /\" 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.

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