Archive for February 1st, 2010


Music Review: M.I.A’s Kala

The second album draws diverse sounds but doesn’t pack a punch

The world always sits up and takes notice of every new rebel that springs up, which should pretty much explain the interest an artist like M.I.A. generates. Revolutionary music has a lot of power, a fact that anyone who has heard Rage Against The Machine will be well aware of. M.I.A. named her debut Arular after her father, a Tamil Tiger rebel. Kala has been named after M.I.A.’s mother. Arular enjoyed a good dose of success, so let’s see how Kala has turned out.

Bamboo Banga employs a barking dog and a part of Ilayaraja’s song Kaattukkuyilu from the film Dalapathi. The sample is the only listenable part of Bamboo Banga, while M.I.A. sings about India, Sri Lanka, someone doing the Macarena, and M.I.A. coming back with power. Bird Flu should’ve been the opening track, for it is truly enjoyable. The drums on Bird Flu are damn good, and you’ll get up from your office chair to do a koli dance to the hen being choked at regular intervals.

Boyz is too ineffective to do anything for either gender, so let’s listen to Jimmy instead. Those familiar with Bollywood will instantly recognize this tune as one of the smash hits from Disco Dancer, the movie that catapulted Mithun Chakraborty to stardom. M.I.A. takes one of Bappi Lahiri’s best known songs and makes a charming remix of it.

Fantastic is the thumping Mango Pickle Down River, with a bunch of kids rhyming over the drone of a didgeridoo. A good job done with the help of The Wilcannia Mob – the didgeridoo is the backbone of Mango Pickle Down River, along with some neat scratching. 20 Dollar is also highly effective – hip-hop vocals by M.I.A. and elements of Pixies’ Where Is My Mind.

World Town and The Turn are below average songs. Fillers, anyone? ‘Where were you in ’92?’, questions M.I.A on XR2 – a song you might want to hurriedly memorise a day before M.I.A. performs live in your city.

Paper Planes outshines everything else on Kala, and why not? It is the only other brilliant song in Slumdog Millionaire (Rahman’s Mausam And Escape is the other one). ‘I fly like paper/get high like planes’, M.I.A coolly announces. The chorus is one of the most infectious ones you’ll ever hear, with gunshots and a ringing cash register. ‘M.I.A./third world democracy/I got more records in the KGB’, the lady goes on. Wish there were more such songs on Kala… or on the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, for that matter. Sigh, never mind.

Timbaland is on the closing track Come Down, on which M.I.A decides to go catchy. Finally!

VERDICT: M.I.A‘s Kala draws diverse sounds but doesn’t pack a punch. However, it’ll make you curious enough to listen to her debut. Or just wait for the third one – she’ll probably name it after the baby.


(From my Buzz18 reviews)

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