MIA’s fifth album is fresh, vibrant and bold, encapsulating everything that is unique about her as an artist. Her songs are infused with politics and are as relevant as ever.
Throughout the album there is a consistent theme of opening borders and explicit references to the ongoing refugee crisis that has yet to be resolved in Europe and across the world.
MIA has been criticised for her writing but any fan knows that lazy lyrics are part of her style. She aims to be simple, to the point and in your face.
Some tracks are metaphorical, “Bird Song” is about escape, and some, including “Borders”, are straight-up literal: “Borders (What’s up with that?)”
As always the album is bursting with fusions between Middle Eastern and western music and the production does not disappoint.
MIA has said that AIM may well be her final album. One thing is for sure, it is easily one of her most iconic. She does not play it safe and feelings of anger and frustration at the current political climate are expressed openly and unashamedly.
Songs such as “Ali are you OK?” bring in hints of pop culture by mirroring the lyrics of the Michael Jackson classic “Smooth Criminal”; but then the song hits you with references to the Calais “Jungle”.
This is classic MIA — she’ll draw you in with catchy beats and easy hooks but then she’ll throw a powerful message into the mix that makes her music both captivating and accessible.
Her ability to highlight complicated social issues through simple words and funky melodies certainly make her stand out as an artist.
AIM has been criticised for being patchy and not her best work. However, there is no doubt that this album is her most obviously political one yet. Is there any wonder that she is under attack for something so furiously and unapologetically in support of refugees?
She challenges the system using her talent, creating art that questions society. This is something that no other mainstream British female artist is doing and she does it with confidence.
For that MIA should be commended. Her passion for humanity can be compared with the likes of Akala, but she conveys her thoughts effortlessly and she has coined her own laid back, smooth style which can’t be labelled.
She doesn’t try too hard and her dragged out sentences and slow bars are all part of a fast reaction to the struggles of the poor and vulnerable.