M.I.A - “MATA” Album Review

Story posted October 24, 2022 in Arts & Entertainment by Eliza Casey.

M.I.A creates music as if she is destined for revolution.

The British musician and known rebel-rouser infuses global cultural instrumentals with bad-girl lyrics to discuss issues of religion, freedom and war. Her most popular works impressed not only critics but also the then up-and-coming generation of kids whose perspectives grew with social media and internet exposure.

An icon and controversial figure in her early career, M.I.A seems to have detached from her younger persona both on social media and in her new album “MATA.”

To clarify, M.I.A still voices her ideologies proudly and frequently and continues to revel in controversy.

However, from her old albums to “MATA,” the listeners miss her cheeky takes on stereotypes and a societal lack of global awareness and are instead subjected to overused conspiratorial and nihilistic talking points about how the media and restrictions on any freedom will be the world's end without a revolution.

Lyrically and conceptually, this album can be split into two parts. The first half is nearly all about freedom. The second half is nearly all about a call for revolution

Freedom from what and how to revolutionize are questions that are never directly answered.

In the first half, she challenges what can only be assumed as media misrepresentation and looming facism with lyrics such as “freedom is a state of mind what you gonna do with mine,” “sensor me cause you can’t make sense of me,” and “be free, do what you gotta do.”

She asserts herself as the savior in this album’s story.

In a world of cryptocurrency, high-egos, climate change, and other surface level internet talking points, she makes no claims other than she will fight against this nonspecified freedom striping force.

How? Presumably with her words and public presence because no direct solution is stated.

However, even purporting herself as a revolutionary, her last song on the album calls, neigh, begs for a miracle/divine intervention.

Not that M.I.A should have answers to what the world's greatest issues are or concrete ways to face them, the issue is she places herself above the “fakes” and tries to remove herself from a culture she says is setting up future generations for war.

Although her lyrics wrought more frustration than interest, M.I.A cannot be faulted for continually raising the bar in composition and instrumentals.

Her voice is unclear as it is drowned out by autotune and jarring siren-esque noises.

However, her inclusion of various languages, culturally significant trilling, bodily percussives, and layered vocalizations offer insight on how to properly incorporate other cultures' stylings into one’s music.

Discourse around whether she should incorporate these elements can be found elsewhere, but praise is needed for a successful effort many have failed.

Limited sampling adds to this album's uniqueness as M.I.A avoided doing what most rappers today rely on for success.

The only consistency is echoy synths throughout, which can ultimately get old.

Overall, this album reflects that M.I.A has lost touch in recent years with what made her popular with her fans in the first place.

With age, she seems to have fallen victim to conspiratorial opinion which is reflected throughout this album.

For a longtime fan, “MATA” could be disappointing, especially if that fan has not shifted perspective in the same way.

In the future, a listener should hope M.I.A leans away from self aggrandizing unless for the sake of irony.

Rating: 3/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Songs: “MATA LIFE”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Songs: “K.T.P (Keep The Peace)”

Eliza Casey is a second-year majoring in telecommunications. To contact her, email egc5236@psu.edu.