If M.I.A. gets her way, she'll be the 21st century's next world music pop star. The Sri Lankan transplant's second album improves on the ethnic dance-floor beats of her debut Arular by making all 12 tracks slicker, more produced and even catchier, with a fairly formidable lyrical undertow to boot.
And Mathangi Arulpragasam (right) certainly isn't above a little pilfering of radical music makers who come before her either. On $20, the 30-year-old sings repeatedly 'where is my mind', a clear nod to the Pixies track of the same name. Opener Bamboo Banga references Jonathan Richman's punk classic Roadrunner and amid the pop melody of Paper Planes comes a clear ode to the Clash's Straight to Hell.
Based on the lyrics, it's likely this daughter of a Tamil Tiger revolutionary is positioning herself as the musical equivalent. 'I'm an outlaw from the badlands,' she'll declare amid chicken squawks and Brazilian drums that sound like Rio de Janeiro's Carnival is in full swing.
Elsewhere, a chorus of Aboriginal children chime in over a digeridoo with a lo-fi rap rhyme. Jimmy is an entirely infectious remake of an early 80s Bollywood song. Middle Eastern motifs, gunshots, cash registers and producer du jour Timbaland also have a welcome place here, on a musical stew that will add a powerful beat-filled dimension to clubs around the world.