M.I.A. has revelled in a somewhat shall we say erratic career thus far, whether that be due to unseemly brushes with the Sri Lankan government or borderline unlistenable aural assaults, for which see much of the typographically outlandish /\/\ /\ Y /\. Though at no point has her discography disappointed in its ultimately provocative intentions, and rarely has she opened up as much as she seemingly does during UNBREAK my Mixtape. The stereotypical format for vicariously conveying every conflicting emotion come the dissolution of any which romance, Arulpragasam here purportedly employs the medium to that very effect as the likes of Graham Coxon, Carly Simon and Karen Dalton, whose I Love You More Than Words Can Say concludes the piece in sumptuously smoky fashion, sing of her ostensible heartbreak. It begins grimily enough, scrappy late ’80s hip hop beats complementing her jejune and initially largely unintelligible vocal gurgling. “Life is nothing but just a fantasy/ Since you took away the love that’s left in me” she sighs vapidly at one point, continuing: “How can I stand by you if I can’t find my feet?” It’s a somewhat antagonistic starting point; a vertiginous precipice it’d be difficult to step away from were her sentiments ever reversed. Though in accordance with the Kübler-Ross model, Arulpragasam works her way through several of the five stages of grief: that immediate anger, here intermingled with headstrong denial; the yearning bargaining of Blur’s Tender, Coxon’s timeless refrain of “Oh my baby” assuming the timbre of a tired plea; again, denial in the emancipated ’82 euphoria of Simon’s Why; and finally the depressive smoulder of Dalton’s pièce de résistance. And as it reassumes its initial, almost primal purpose, the mixtape seems to reclaim its relevance once again.
M.I.A.’s heavily anticipated fourth full-length, Matangi, is anticipated November 4th.