Label: XL Release date: 12/07/10 Link: Offical Site Buy: Amazon “Headphone's connected to the iPhone, connected to the internet, connected to the Google, connected to the government.” Never one to shy away from political statements bordering on conspiracy theories, M.I.A.'s latest offering is liberally dusted with information-sharing fallout. Thanks to widespread internet campaigns and her now banned video for 'Born Free' turning viral, it's fair to say that online communities have had a huge say in whether M.I.A continues to release music on top of her game. Does she really believe the government are using the internet to store information about us? Or is it simply a passing fascination, something to talk about after a drink or two, as it is with most twitter-holics? The first truth to share about this album is that whatever it's message, it doesn't matter too much. As with M.I.A.'s previous offerings, the beats, hooks and pervading general noise is what keeps the momentum up throughout the mishmash of electro-pop and severely distorted dance hall. What's moved along at a pace is not the sentiments behind the lyrics, but the sounds emanating from the speakers. Instead of harsh, angry synths, we are at times soothed with semi-humorous reggae beats (no doubt inspired by Rusko's input on the album) or treated to unexpected garage rock breaks. One thing M.I.A. is not, is boring. It might be true that because of who she is, you forgive her for a few vocal discrepancies or the feverish use of Autotune – no doubt remnants of Diplo's influence – but you don't have to look past her indulgences for long to see a truly excellent album in all of its parts. It may take a few listens for those more acquainted to Miss Arulpragasam's more chart-friendly offerings, but Maya's shape-shifting makes for interesting musical texture, and there is little doubt that although electro hits like 'XXXO' and 'Illygirl' are more instantly rewarding, other tracks such as 'Meds and Feds' and 'Story to be Told' are definitely built to grow. It might be fair to say that M.I.A.has tried her hardest with this offering to shake off followers who insist on wearing slatted plastic glasses and saying things like “Brap”. She's kept hold of her achingly cool persona, and any disputes as to her versatility as an artist could easily be settled by playing 'Tell Me Why' and 'Space' back to back. It's clear to see that she enjoys challenging her listeners at the same time as laughing with them. Have you ever heard a mainstream artist sample Phonejacker in one of their album tracks before? What she never does is laugh at her audience. She's as earnest and honest as ever. She's a one-off. Photobucket