The end of 'Come Walk With Me' features a sample that should be familiar with M.I.A. fans. The statement "M.I.A. coming back with power, power" harks back to a time when M.I.A. was a common fixture in critics' 'best of lists', and is perhaps the best way to characterise her latest release Matangi. The track itself was released in the months leading up to the album's launch, and alongside 'Bad Girls' and 'Bring The Noize' showed that, whilst the sound of MAYA was gone, this was not going to be a ret-con of the M.I.A. sound to that of Kala or even Arular.

It's been three years since M.I.A released the abrasive and antagonistic MAYA and in that time it's been unclear if we'd ever get another album from M.I.A again. There was a freely released mixtape (Vicki Leeks), but otherwise it was understood that Maya Arulpragasm would be retiring to look after her child. When she did announce her return in 2012, it was heavily delayed by the label, prompting Maya to threaten to leak the album herself.

Given the frustration Maya has experienced, both in getting the record out, and also the negative reaction to her last album, it's surprising to hear that Matangi opens in a rather subdued way. There is none of the Bollywood drumming of 'Bamboo Banga', or skittery paranoia of 'The Message', instead 'Karmageddon' opens the album with a meditative chant and a pulsing bass riff. The initial tranquillity of the track morphs into something more menacing as the track progresses and M.I.A.'s vocals, hushed, yet right at the front of the mix, give the impression (especially on headphones) that she's stood close behind whispering the lyrics directly into your ear. "Some get put in cells, sex fucking sells, you know the drill so it's time to ring the bell." Themes of revolution, change and rebirth are present throughout Matangi and M.I.A makes this clear. She ends the track stating "Ain't Dalai Lama, ain't Sathya Baba," which is a far cry from Kanye's proclamation earlier this year, but reinforces the point that she's trying to open our eyes to wider issues and enact a change in consciousness.

The title track, which immediately follows, is a complete contrast. Opening with what sounds like a bomb-blast, M.I.A.'s vocal refrain fading in almost like a warning siren. The main beat, seems to use the same urumee present on Kala with a squawking lead that recalls 'Bird Flu' off of the same album. She then proceeds to list several countries followed by "it's so simple, do the dance." It's a powerful statement of existence and in many ways serves the same purpose as 'Bucky Done Gun' on Arular. The second half of the track sees M.I.A. take aim at those she sees as imposters and plunderers of her style. "They make big sound with nothing to say" she raps, followed by "looking like copycat, doppelgänger, fraud, they ain't got nothing on me and now I'm getting bored."

If you were to compare the overall sound of Matangi, you'd probably find it sits somewhere between Kala and MAYA. The use of non-western music styles and structures that characterised the former is very much present here, as is the heavier, meatier tone associated with the latter. It might be billed as a rap record, or even a dance album, but it honestly sounds like nothing else that has come before - and in that respect it is typical of all M.I.A. records.

'Dubble Bubble Trouble' flits between ska-punk and the kind of EDM popularised by Skrillex and Deadmau5, before finishing with a middle-eastern-style freakout riff. The melancholic vibe of 'Lights' is difficult to place. M.I.A.'s vocals float over the track which mainly consists of what sounds like muffled bongo drums and simple bass swells. Elsewhere tracks like 'Bring the Noize', 'Warriors', 'Y.A.L.A' and 'aTENTion' are brutal dancefloor tracks that listened to in a row are likely to leave you exhausted and feeling as though you've been bludgeoned, even if they don't get you dancing.

Listened to as a complete album, it can all get a little overwhelming; heavy basslines, aggressive synthesisers and pitch-shifted vocals are common throughout. There's also a odd disconnect between some of the songs. The tracks with The Weeknd - 'Exodus' and 'Sexodus' - don't really engage as much as the rest of the album and perhaps rely a little to heavily on the 'Lonely Star' sample to do anything notable musically. There is also the awkward positioning of 'Lights', probably the album's most down-tempo number, which immediately follows 'Bring the Noize'. It certainly works as respite from the sampled brass and schizophrenic vocal lines of the previous track, but results in a come down so sudden and unexpected that it actually distracts from one of the album's oddest, and most interesting moments.

More than any of M.I.A.'s previous albums, Matangi is filled with the rhythm and language of dance music and that's both Western and Eastern. 'Come Walk With Me' is probably the clearest example which uses dance music styles not common in the UK or US. In many ways it's similar to the Syrian raving of Omar Souleyman, or Egypt's electro-chaabi scene, both are celebratory forms of dance music, with Egypt's scene being linked with the Arab Spring, despite many songs lacking a political focus. Scenes like this, and Matangi as well, remind us of the way dance can unite us, empower us and free us. There is a quote from 13th century Persian poet Rumi that's perhaps apt in summarising this and the power of M.I.A.'s unique, socially conscious music.

"Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free."