The first glimpse of MIA’s major label debut came with lead single “Bad Girls”, a very MIA-esque mix of Arabic swag, super-catchy beats and singsong vocals. But the song came out over a year ago, symbolic of the delays that have impeded Matangi’s release: at one point the singer grew so frustrated with her label she threatened to leak it.
The end result is a disappointment by her standards. The provocative political grandstanding of her previous albums is dialled down in favour of conventional hip-hop bragadoccio, while the musical entrepôt, with its dense weave of samples and glitchy electronics, sounds scattershot where once it was vibrantly chaotic. “Bad Girls” kick-starts a mini-renaissance with the chopped n’ screwed reggae of “Double Bubble Trouble” and the booming dance floor-filler “YALA”, but the rally only accentuates an overall sense of missed opportunity.