Kala is the latest album from British songwriter and rapper Maya Arulpragasam, better known as MIA. Her first album Arular was named after her father, a fighter for Tamil freedom in Sri Lanka. Now she’s back with a second album – this time named after her mother.
Behind the hype, MIA’s first album was a fresh and exciting mix of ragga, dancehall and electro. So it was with much anticipation that I listened to Kala.
There’s a lot to like here – in particular, tracks such as “Bird Flu” and “Paper Planes” remind you of what MIA is capable of. She has introduced new drum beats and sounds, which she describes as “streets, colours, Africa, power, nu world and brave”.
But this album feels much more polished and more produced than her previous work – and it feels like a lot of the fun was lost when the edges were smoothed out.
Nevertheless Kala is still very good – even when she’s not at her best, MIA easily outstrips much of what is on offer today.
But in truth I miss the less shiny, more unpredictable MIA that we saw on her first album.