By Andrew R. Mott
As a self-proclaimed final album, M.I.A.’s fifth studio effort, AIM, is off the mark if the 41-year-old rapper wants to go out on a high note. The album opens with “Borders,” a track that has that classic M.I.A. style: a dance groove juxtaposed against a simplified-to-abstraction narrative. Unfortunately, the record wanes into a scheme of abrasive repetitiveness after that, with just a few moments of undeniable strength, artistry and spot on production. There’s a great willingness to experiment on the record that has to be admired, but M.I.A.’s show of vocal tone-deafness and lack of clarity is untoward and doesn’t do her justice. “Foreign Friend” is a prime example of this failing on the album, with its melodic pops of strength and singular moment of clever lyricism wasted by stale timing and consistent pitchiness. “Visa,” “Fly Pirate,” and the Diplo remix of “Bird Song” are saving graces on the record and better demonstrate M.I.A.’s ability to push repetitiveness in a track without going over the line. While the album fails as a last dance to remember, it does have some moments that will stand out in the full body of M.I.A’s work, leaving listeners hoping that she’ll come back again with another effort.AIM, M.I.A.