/\/\/\Y/\, /\/\/\Y/\ Review, Album Review, Body Talk, Body Talk Review, Janelle Monae, Janelle Monae Review, Janelle Monae The Arch Android, Janelle Monae The Arch Android Review, Janelle Monae TheArchAndroid, Janelle Monae TheArchAndroid Review, M.I.A., M.I.A. /\/\/\Y/\, M.I.A. /\/\/\Y/\ Review, M.I.A. Maya, M.I.A. Maya Review, M.I.A. Review, Maya Review, Robyn, Robyn Body Talk, Robyn Body Talk Review, Robyn Review, The Arch Android, The Arch Android Review, TheArchAndroid, TheArchAndroid Review
“Maya” (as it’s labeled on iTunes, but apparently the real title is something like “/\/\/\Y/\”)
is the third album from UK’s M.I.A. one of the few popular artists that lives completely outside of the box. Or at least has up until this latest album, which is a mostly great album even if it doesn’t feel as new and fresh as her first two. One could call the album’s second single “Xxxo” or songs like “It Takes a Muscle” as intentional cross-over attempts, and one could also say songs like “Space” are obvious attempts to re-capture the success from her US break-out single “Paper Planes”. Still, once the album is finished you get the sense that M.I.A. is still staying true to herself even it’s really not any better or worse than her last two albums. Since her 2007 album “Kala” it seems she’s in a calmer place than the once hectic reggae/hip hop sounds of before, this new outing sounds way more contained and subdued. “It Iz What It Iz” “Lovalot” are two stand out songs that find M.I.A. flowing more comfortably over less chaotic and noisy beats like before. Even when she goes heavy punk (the first single “Born Free”) there’s still a sense it was produced with the idea of organized noise, not going to the maximum but editing elements out to give a more succinct vibe. Overall “/\/\/\Y/\” is a great outing, and even though for M.I.A. some of it sounds familiar, on the whole the album is still way more innovative and original than most albums released.
Robyn went from late 90’s Pop Tart to Electronica/Club Queen with her last eponymous album released in 2008. The critically hailed and Grammy nominated album was obvious inspiration for the first of her new trilogy “Body Talk, Pt. 1“.
The 8-track album serves as a bit of a sampler of what made the critics and fans fall in love with the last album, as songs like “Fembot”, “Jag vet en dejlig Rosa” and the stellar first single “Dancing on My Own” are reminiscent of tracks from that album. Robyn again offers heavy Electronic, Club, and sometimes straight up Pop tracks under very thoughtful lyrics and melodies, like a more credible Lady GaGa or Ke$ha. With this album she stretches her versatility even further with the Diplo assisted, reggae/electro hybrid “Dancehall Queen” and the more ambient Club banger “None of Dem” with Röyksopp. “Pt. 1” more than wets the listeners appetite for the second and third installments (the second installment is due in September. Third installment has no release date as of yet) and gives a great alternative to the mindless Dance music dominating the radio.
And it’s not only the established artists who are daring to be original, newcomer Janelle Monáe has delivered her first full length album
“The ArchAndroid” which is both original and eclectic. The smooth voiced Monáe effortlessly takes a crusade from different genres like Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B as well as style influences from different decades and yet somehow it all works together to deliver a soulful and relaxing (at times) album that has very little filler. While the album on the whole is an epic and versatile journey, the versatility might be the one downfall. Though the album is a breath of fresh air, and Monáe’s ability to mold her voice and attitude to the variety of sounds is impressive. However it’s hard to lock down what exactly HER style is, outside of her being able to tackle effectively the vast variety of material on the album, it’s hard to figure out what she’s bringing to the album vocally, personality, attitude and style wise. Of course that’s a very minor complaint, and her style will surely come out in the next few albums. Meanwhile, this album is a must-listen for this year as it’s one of the most original and adventurous albums to surface in a long while.