When I first wrote about "Kala" upon its release in 2007, I wrote: "The best part of it is that it just sounds exciting – music that you want to tell someone about..."
Nothing since then has changed my estimation of the album. From the very first track, "Bamboo Banga," "Kala" establishes a level of vitality and intensity that just never lets up.
The album is as exotic as anything you'll ever hear - in terms of instrumentation and effects, everything but the kitchen sink can be heard on "Kala" - in his review, Robert Christgau identified "zooms and scrapes and grunts and whistles and kiddie voices and animal cries, weird Asian drums and horns, down-home melodica and didgeridoo," and even that leaves out the gunshots and cash register that make "Paper Planes" so memorable.
But the album comes down to the beats, and M.I.A.'s uncanny ability to wrap her voice (which, based on the live videos that can be found on YouTube, really isn't that strong) around them.
I wish I could rank it higher, but we're starting to get into some pretty head territory now.